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Good in-class English Writing Exercise

Good in-class English Writing Exercise

Focused, unified body paragraphs

Introductory and concluding paragraphs are a different matter, but the paragraphs that make up the guts of your essays, the body paragraphs, need the following to be effective units of argument or analysis:

1) A topic sentence, a direct statement of the main point of the paragraph. In question-driven essays, topic sentences should answer the intro question directly (from the opposition viewpoint in “opposing views” paragraphs).

2) Unity and coherence: the paragraph should remain clearly focused on one primary point, stated in the topic sentence, throughout the paragraph, proving or backing up the major point the paragraph contributes to the larger thesis. Usually, “body paragraphs” should elaborate only one major point of argument or analysis—one main point per paragraph.

3) Development: the paragraph should offer effective and convincing support to prove or illustrate the primary point of the paragraph—a developed paragraph gives evidence, often through illustrative examples, and detailed explanation of the topic sentence.

Topic Sentences:

Consider again the hypothetical paper from the second in-class exercise, addressing the question, “Why do so many people commit adultery?”

1st opposing view:

One theory as to why so many people commit adultery holds that human beings are not by nature monogamous, that lifelong fidelity to a single sexual partner is unnatural.

2nd opposing view:

Another theory would have us believe that the so-called “mid-life crisis” is the reason so many people commit adultery.

Author's point 1:

It may be that many people engage in adultery from simple boredom—it is a sad but true fact that in many marriages sex becomes “old” within months of the honeymoon.

Author's point 2:

People commit adultery, too, because some see cheating as method of escape or relief from other, deeper problems in their marriages.

Author's point 3:

Perhaps the most pervasive underlying cause for the frequent occurrence of adultery is our society's casual attitude towards both marriage and divorce in general.

Thesis:

Adultery is common mainly because people get bored with their partners, because they have deeper problems in the relationship and seek solace or relief in the arms of others, and because our society has a casual attitude towards both marriage and divorce in general.

Recall that essays maintain focus globally by having each topic sentence answer the question you are addressing directly, by repeating "key words" from the question in each topic sentence....

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