8 Steps to a Strong Paragraph
- Think about what you want to say. What question will you answer in the paragraph? What topic will you address?
- Write a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea.
- Brainstorm details that will explain, describe or prove this main idea. Collect related facts.
- Decide which of these ideas or facts will best support the main idea.
- Include the facts in the supporting sentences that follow the topic sentence.
- Read over the paragraph. Does each sentence relate directly to the main idea? Does the order make sense?
- Add a final sentence that ties all details together.
- Proofread. Check for errors in spelling and grammar.
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8 Steps to a Strong Paragraph
Creating a Step-by-Step Outline
(Getting those Great Ideas Down on Paper!)
- Write the numbers 1-5 on a piece of paper.
- Next to #1, write your answer to the question, or your opinion on the topic, in a complete sentence. For example, if asked to write a paragraph about your favorite person, you might write, "My favorite person is my mother."
- Next to #2, write one reason in support of your answer. For example, on the favorite person paragraph, you might write, "She knows how to help with homework."
- Next to #3, write another reason in support of your answer. You might write, "She takes me wherever I need to go."
- Next to #4, write a third reason in support of your answer. You might write, "She is very good at reading stories."
- Next to #5, rephrase your answer or opinion from #1. You might write, "My mother is a wonderful person to me."
- Copy your sentences #1-#5, one after the other, on your final sheet of paper.
- And there you have it -- a coherent five-sentence paragraph: "My favorite person is my mother. She knows how to help with homework. She takes me wherever I need to go. She is very good at reading stories. My mother is a wonderful person to me."
- The example used here is a very simple paragraph for an early elementary assignment, but the same technique can be used for a more advanced open-ended question [if you include more detail and sophisticated language]. Just answer the question in the first sentence; write one reason for that answer in the second; another reason in the third sentence; a third reason in the fourth sentence; and rephrase your answer for the fifth sentence.
- It may help to brainstorm before writing the sentences. On a piece of scratch paper, jot down any ideas at all in support of your answer. You may even want to brainstorm reasons for a number of answers, and then pick the answer with the strongest support. Pick three of your ideas and turn them into sentences for your outline.
- Graphic organizers can also be helpful in turning up ideas. Try a [mindmap] with your answer in the middle and ideas in all the little bubbles.
- If the teacher is asking for a paragraph of six or seven sentences, simply add more reasons.
What You Need
- Scratch paper for the #1-#5 list and for any brainstorming.
- A piece of paper for the final paragraph
- Pen or pencil
"Step Up to Writing" Middle School--Paragraphs (**Please note that "concluding sentences" should be changed to "transition sentences" if you are writing multiple paragraphs on a topic. "Concluding sentences" work for a single paragraph where you want to wrap up your idea but won't be using a conclusion paragraph.
Mr. Forest's Paragraph Page: Goes through several different types of writing (narrative, descriptive, persuasive, and expository).