If you’ve read “Types of Paragraphs: Introductory, Development, Transition & Concluding”, you’re aware that your paragraphs should be focused and contain one main sub-topic of your main topic. Today we’re going to discuss how to develop paragraphs for the reader that are informative, easy to read and follow a standard pattern of development.
Let’s say you’ve decided to write about yoga. You want to introduce the various styles, history, benefits and drawbacks of yoga in general. The first paragraph should introduce what you’ll cover in the article. The next paragraph will cover the many styles of yoga and give a brief description of each style. If our article was about the styles themselves we would give each style it’s on paragraph, but since this is a general article, it’s sufficient to just list some styles in one paragraph.
Our next three paragraphs would be about the history of yoga, its benefits and the drawbacks, with each topic being in a single paragraph all its own, followed by a concluding paragraph. We should have at least six paragraphs on the topic of yoga in this sample article. But how do we determine in which order the information within each paragraph should be mentioned? Is there a method for developing great paragraphs? There are several patterns of development for paragraphs and we will cover 4 of them; enumeration, illustration, comparison and/or contrast and cause and effect.
Enumeration: This pattern contains a series of information which usually parallel one another and ends with the most important point last. Enumeration paragraphs build like a suspense story. It can also be like a laundry list of items with limited details. Enumeration paragraphs would be a good way to write about the benefits of yoga in our sample topic. The most prominent benefit of yoga would be the last in the series as we’ve been building up to it with the previous benefits.
Illustration: The illustration pattern in paragraph development often uses anecdotes, a story, or a single case description. It does this by going into depth about one particular topic instead of providing several details. If I was going to share my personal experience with yoga, I may tell a short story about how I came to discover yoga which would relate to my article on the subject.
Comparison and/or Contrast: A comparison or contrast pattern does exactly what it says, it either compares two or more items or shows the differences between them (contrast). A good example of this kind of paragraph and writing style is Jonathan Bailey’s, “Follow the Stream: 3 Tools for Tracking Twitter in Real Time”.
Cause and Effect: This pattern of paragraph development is used to show a relationship between ideas, topics, etc. It details how one event effected a later event or caused an event to happen. In our yoga topic example, if I began practicing yoga and noticed great improvements in flexibility, health and stamina, a paragraph about those improvements would be a cause and effect paragraph.
Writing paragraphs with these general patterns of development will improve your writing skills, be easier to read and understand and give your article a well laid out structure.
For more help on honing your skills and bringing your sentence structure, paragraphs and keywords together please refer to Rob Starr’s recent article “Putting Keywords in Their Proper Place” and my articles, “Choose Your Words Wisely” and “Using Basic Journalism Structure to Write Great Articles“.