Writing Forward

Eight Characteristics of Good Writing

by Melissa Donovan | Dec 2, 2021 | Better Writing | 31 comments

good writing

What’s the difference between bad and good writing?

How important is it for a writer to be able to discern the difference between good writing and bad writing?

Pretty important, if you ask me.

I know some writers aren’t concerned with quality. In today’s do-it-yourself and get-it-done-fast world, quality plays second fiddle to quantity. Who cares if your books are full of typos, bad grammar, and poor logic as long as you have published lots and made a bunch of money?

The Characteristics of Good Writing

So, what constitutes good writing? Opinions on the matter vary widely. There will be different traits that make good fiction versus good poetry or good nonfiction. However, we can cull together a general list of the characteristics of good writing (in no particular order):

  • Clarity and focus: In good writing, everything makes sense and readers don’t get lost or have to reread passages to figure out what’s going on. Focused writing sticks with the plot or core idea without running off on too many tangents.
  • Organization: A well organized piece of writing is not only clear, it’s presented in a way that is logical and aesthetically pleasing. You can tell non-linear stories or place your thesis at the end of an essay and get away with it as long as your scenes or ideas are well ordered.
  • Ideas and themes: Is the topic of your paper relevant? Does your story come complete with themes? Can the reader visualize your poem? For a piece of writing to be considered well crafted, it has to contain clearly identifiable ideas and themes.
  • Voice: This is what sets you apart from all other writers. It’s your unique way of stringing words together, formulating ideas, and relating scenes or images to the reader. In any piece of writing, the voice should be consistent and identifiable.
  • Language (word choice): We writers can never underestimate or fail to appreciate our most valuable tools: words. Good writing includes precise and accurate word choices and well crafted sentences.
  • Grammar and style: Many writers would wish this one away, but for a piece of writing to be considered good (let alone great), it has to follow the rules of grammar (and break those rules only when there’s a good reason). Style is also important in ensuring that a piece of writing is clear and consistent. Make sure you keep a grammar book and style guide handy.
  • Credibility or believability: Nothing says bad writing like getting the facts wrong or misrepresenting oneself. In fiction, the story must be believable (even if it’s impossible), and in nonfiction, accurate research can make or break a writer.
  • Thought-provoking or emotionally inspiring: Perhaps the most important quality of good writing is how the reader responds to it. Does she come away with a fresh perspective and new ideas? Does he close the cover with tears in his eyes or a sense of victory? How readers react to your work will fully determine your success as a writer.

I want to add an honorable mention for originality. Everything has been done before, so originality is somewhat arbitrary. However, putting old ideas together in new ways and creating remixes of the best that literature has to offer is a skill worth developing.

Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Good and Bad Writing

To write well, a writer must be able to recognize quality in a piece of writing. How can you assess or improve your own work if you can’t tell the difference between mediocre and better writing in others’ work? This is why it’s so important for writers to be dedicated readers!

Writing is also an art form and therefore subject to personal taste. Can you read a book and dislike it but acknowledge that the writing was good? Have you ever read a book and loved the story but felt that the writing was weak?

A writer should be able to articulate why a piece of writing succeeds or fails, and a writer should also be able to recognize the qualities in a piece of writing even when it doesn’t appeal to their personal taste. These skills are especially necessary when writers are reviewing or critiquing other writers’ work and when revising, editing, and proofreading their own work.

Where do you stand? Do you rate other people’s writing? Do you worry about whether your own writing is any good? Would you add or remove any characteristics of good writing from this list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing.

10 Core Practices for Better Writing

31 Comments

Michelle

I have had work published. I have even won a competition and still I lack the courage to really commit to it. It’s like I heard a character in a ‘soap’ once saying: ” If I dream of doing it I can always hold onto the dream and live on the’ I could have done it if I tried’, whereas if I go ahead and do it I just might not be ‘good’ and then everything will be gone then, dream and all ! ” Everything you say makes sense but it’s courage I now seek to acquire as well as certain’ devil may care attitude . Courage and self belief and wee bit of discipline. 2012 might just be the year ! Michelle

Melissa Donovan

Michelle, I actually think it’s healthy to have dreams that we don’t fully intend on pursuing. It’s good for the imagination! A person might be interested or passionate about dozens of things and cannot possibly make careers out of them all. But courage is something else… and I don’t think anyone can give you courage. You have to find it within yourself. The first step is to decide that you are going to brave the writing career. After that, you muster up the courage. It’s there inside you, and if you really want it, you’ll find it 🙂 Good luck to you!

Bill Polm

Good one, Michelle, and needed too.

So many blog posts on how to drum up business or write enticing posts or articles, or even how to avoid embarrassing grammatical errors (not that those are not important).

So little on just plain old good writing. Writing that is unusually good, that delights, that informs with impact,

I love the freedom an informal style of modern English. But sometimes I worry a bit that contemporary readers are being fed to many tiny sentences to appeal to an ever-diminishing attention span.

A good list you have there. Maybe I would add that I value fluency. That adroit facility of the accomplished writer who’s covered miles of (digital) paper and now can write not only accurate and clear words and sentences but also compelling and memorable prose.

Ah, fluency is definitely necessary to good writing, although I think it comes with experience, so it might only apply to older or more advanced writers. Great food for thought, Bill. Thanks!

Michael White

Loved this blog post. It actually reminded me of a quote by Oscar Wilde, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”

That quote could spur a debate, I’m sure! Thanks for sharing it, Michael. I’m going to give Oscar Wilde’s idea some serious consideration.

PlumaDame

“A writer should be able to articulate why a piece of writing succeeds or fails, and a writer should also be able to recognize the qualities in a piece of writing even when it doesn’t appeal to personal taste”

I’m reading a book right now with a story line that I don’t particularly care for. Eight chapters into it, I’m not fully invested into the story. BUT, the author’s grasp of human emotion/interaction and her ability to explicate the nuances with clarity is brilliant. That fact alone keeps interested and pulls me forward.

Ah! I’ve been there too!

Sierra

This is a very well written blog, and the advice is good for teaching people how to get their points across. However, my problem is not that I can’t tell good from bad; apparently I’m quite good at assessing the quality of other authors’ writing and helping them iprove it. My problem is that though I love writing and am proud of my plot lines and characters, I don’t have a way with words and I just can’t write. Does anyone have any advice on how to make things WORK once you have everything planned out, or am I doomed to the life of an author who can’t write? That sounded really dismal.

Beckie

How do really know your writing is bad? If you’ve got a plot that you love, characters that are filled with layers and truth, set them free! Turn off those negative thoughts and just run with it. Write your story through to the end. If you believe in what you’ve got so far then let it lead you. You will surprise yourself. You proved with your post above that you can convey feeling, let your characters have their voice. Take a deep breath and jump/write!! Best of luck and courageous hugs!

Thanks, Beckie. Well said!

My guess is that your way with words isn’t as bad as you think. I didn’t have any trouble understanding what you wrote. However, if you want to strengthen your skills in vocabulary, word choice, and sentence structure, there are two things you can do: read as much as possible and engage with poetry. Pick up an introductory book on poetry and you’ll learn tons of techniques in this area (which you can apply to fiction and nonfiction). This one can be expensive but it’s worth every penny: Perrine’s Sound and Sense . Good luck to you!

Thank you, both you and Beckie. That’s really good advice. 🙂 I’ll try to be more positive.

Yes! Keep your chin up and stick with it.

Tina Ridgway

In my estimation, for what it’s worth, you write very well. You were clear and concise. I understood the points you were trying to convey. You even allowed a bit of your personality to shine through with self deprecation. Don’t be so hard on yourself, if you wish to be a writer then you should write. I am learning that for one to write compelling characters , one must be well acquainted with the characters they are creating. I am working on fleshing out some characters who are too one dimensional. Life is not black and white. I am trying to write in between the lines in gray. Good luck with your writing.

Paul Atreides

I’ve been perusing your site all morning. I’ve found some terrific tips, some very well-thought common sense approaches to working through difficulties in writing. And as soon as I push the submit button on this I’ll be subscribing!

Though I’ve been published and produced, I find myself in an almost constant state of questioning even the most basic ability to write. On the one hand, a local critic stated “proves he can write” and “there’s a simplicity in the writing that is quite refreshing.” On the other hand, I face a writer’s group (all women) each week who continually tell me my writing is sorely lacking because there aren’t enough issues (conflicts) in any given piece and therefore the characters do not exhibit enough “emotional levels.” Facing this type of weekly demolition has made me think I need to go back to doing what I used to do (before I became unemployed!): write for my own enjoyment and forget about any further publishing.

Where can one go to determine if there is even the slightest bit of talent worth further pursuit? I don’t mean a full-on critique of a piece, but a simple “I’d give it up if I were you.” or “This [writing] shows promise, keep learning and keep writing.”

Melissa McCann

Hmmm, Paul, possibly find a few dudes for your critiques? Also, are the women published? Have good reviews themselves? Read widely in your genre? Men and women do sometimes have widely varying ideas of what makes a good story. You may be writing good, solid, plot-driven adventures (I don’t know–maybe you’re into steamy historical romance) that don’t rely on a lot of emotional nuance. I’d look for beta-readers who understand what you are trying to accomplish.

Or take the girls with a big grain of salt and use what seems to deepen your own writing while recognizing that women’s brains are different. We have bizarre and incomprehensible ideas about relationships and whatnot. I read an interesting theory from the creators of the Dramatica Pro story outlining software about how a “masculine” character (or story) is about getting from point A to Point Z while overcoming every obstacle in between whereas a feminine character (or story) is about getting everything into balance and restoring chaos to equilibrium. Both perfectly fine stories. (I prefer the masculine-type storylines myself).

Post those good reviews and read ’em every day. I have some really nice rejections that I savor whenever I’m feeling inadequate.

Thanks, Melissa!

Two of the ladies have been published but have no reviews of their work. All have complimented the basic plot lines. Their big complaint would seem to fall into the theory from Dramatica Pro you mention; they are looking for every female character to make absolute sense to them strictly within their belief structure of how the characters should/must react to a particular situation. Otherwise, they give solid line-edit critiques and they do point out the occassional hole in content.

None of them read within my genre – if I even have one, that is. I’d classify my novels as “budscapades” (you like my mash-up moniker?) – in other words the main characters are male (female characters do show up along the way) and they are definitely plot driven stories. In entering the Amazon Breakout Book Award Contest, I classified the novel as “bromantic comedy” (plenty of action for guys with a hint of romance for women).

Both your suggestions are solid. I’m sticking with the ladies but will weigh their critiques carefully before implementation and I’ll have to find some men who can show the same amount of weekly dedication to the process.

Thanks, Paul! I think that critique groups can be immensely beneficial, but I also think that each writer has to decide which feedback to apply and which to discard. Objectively, there’s good writing and bad writing, but subjectively, we all have our opinions and preferences. I guess you have to decide whether you want to step up the emotional levels in your characters and add more conflict or if you want to keep your work minimalist.

Here’s what matters: once you do publish, unless you are looking for awards and accolades, the trick is really to find your audience. And there is an audience for everything (as popular culture demonstrates). You might also take a hard look at what the others in your writing group are producing and ask whether this group is a good match to your writing style and needs. You can also ask one of the women in the group to work more closely with you to bring those emotional levels up, if you think you’d like to stretch yourself and experiment a little.

Final word of advice: do not give up on writing or publishing. Forge ahead! You might even look for a creative writing class or workshop — you’ll get a broader range of feedback.

And thank you, Melissa (not Melissa-me, Melissa-you) for putting some analysis into the question of what makes good writing. I get so frustrated with the “Good writing is subjective; it’s just what you like or don’t like,” crowd. The more you study writing, the more you begin to see the difference between good vs bad.

The difficulty, I suppose, is because writing is as complex as any other language. It’s too complex to learn by having the rules explained to us by helpful parents, “Now dear, this is a verb. It always goes after the subject. Is it time to make a poo-poo?” We learn the rules of spoken language by hearing it at a time when our brains are primed and programmed to take it in. Many people don’t start learning to read or write until after that language window is closed. Those of us who learned to read at the same time we were learning to talk have an advantage.

Yes, I’d have to agree that the younger we are when we are taught to read and write, the more naturally it comes. There is much about writing that is subjective, but I believe there is plenty that can be assessed critically and objectively: grammar, spelling, and punctuation, for starters.

David L Scurlock

i tell every mother about my baby can read…they agree and then dont get it for their child..

Matt S.

I have to admit, I share a lot of the insecurities that I have read in the comments here. I’m pretty young and new to the game, and I’m worried that even if I somehow finish this idea that I have (non-fiction) I wont be taken seriously given my lack of a college degree. I have this internal conflict raging in my subconscious, so much so that I’m starting to have dreams about it. Do I go ahead and share my thoughts with others or should I keep them to myself?

It doesn’t help that I have a fear of failure, I suppose. Writing is where I clarify my ideas and feelings, and I’m afraid that my work will be ripped apart by people that dislike it or dismiss my thoughts, mostly because I’ll take it as them dismantling my soul. Does anyone else feel this way?

As I’m writing this I’m slowly realizing that I think that what I need is a little encouragement from people that don’t know me. Man, writing is awesome!

Even if you have a degree, people can still rip your ideas apart. I believe strongly in the value of higher education, but I also know (for a fact) there are plenty of folks with degrees who lack common sense or good hearts. And there are plenty of bright people with good hearts and common sense who do not have degrees. Then again, if you’re that torn up about not having a degree, why not just go get one?

Having said all that, I think you can simply shift your focus. Most of the best writers in the literary canon did not have degrees. Many did not even finish high school. Of your favorite authors, how many have BAs or MAs? Do you know? Do you care? (I don’t.)

As for failure, everyone’s afraid of it. I don’t think we’re meant to eliminate the fear. It’s more a matter of moving forward even though we are afraid. I would say that if you publish a book, some people are not going to like it. That’s just the way it is. So what? Focus your attention and energy on all the people who do like it. If you work hard and write, and put it out there (and do your marketing), you’ll find your audience. Embrace them, and don’t worry so much about everybody else. Good luck to you!

never worry about what anyone says…if someone takes the time for a a scathing review instead of just chucking it in the trash, then you must have struck a chord with that person…all publicity is good publicity…people will want to find out what made this reviewer so angry/….if they are intelligent…

Tony Vanderwarker

Writing well is the price of admission. But beyond the basics is where it gets squishy. Eudora Welty said something like “You’re only writing when you surprise yourself”. What does that mean? You write until you discover.

I don’t know–I would say you’re only writing when you’re putting words on the page. Surprises and discoveries are bonuses in the writing process for me. Maybe it’s because I write a lot of nonfiction, which isn’t full of discovery or surprise the way fiction is.

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Great article. I’m going to link to it on Reddit!

i think another goal of writing is to use the fewest words possible to convey an idea…similies and metaphors fill this bill…but simple truth sticks with people especially when it is a parable for something much more meaningful.

I think that’s a good goal, although it’s not every writer’s goal. I love clear, simple language, but there are exceptions when I come across a poem or story that is dripping with rich language.

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Top 10 Qualities of a Good Essay

Top 10 Qualities Of A Good Essay

Why are students often asked to write an essay? Because this is a type of writing work in which students learn to express their thoughts about different topics. The reasoning should be backed up by facts and statements about a particular topic. However, the author’s opinion is the main one here, and it develops students’ creative and scientific thinking at the same time.

So what makes a good essay? You will find the answer to this question in this article. Only through finding and studying additional information will you be able to develop your critical thinking .

Here are some basic points and qualities of good writing that will make your essay successful:

Top 10 Qualities Good Essay

Small Volume.

Of course, when creativity is in its full flow, you want to write without stopping, but the first sign of what a good essay is precisely its compact volume.

Here you need to explain your opinion about the topic’s subject matter clearly, concisely, and with specific arguments that will support your opinion. Avoid arguing about your statements because it will confuse you and the reader and negate all the work on the arguments.

Specific Topic and Your Subjective Opinion.

The subject of the essay is always specific. It does not happen that the essay has several different thoughts and topics. This is what distinguishes it from other types of paper works.

Your arguments and subjective opinion should be the same. The purpose of your work is to convince the reader that your opinion is true, backed by strong facts, and is consistent throughout the work.

Free Composition

What does it mean? The essay has no specific writing rules. Yes, a certain structure distinguishes this type of work from others, but the essay composition itself is free.

If you are unsure where to start or how to write an essay, try to find free essays online by contacting professionals .

Do not use too long sentences or try to surprise the reader with difficult terms and strange words, especially if you are not sure about their meaning. On the contrary, your main task here is to engage the reader and make contact with him through the text.

As we have already written, the author needs to establish contact with the reader.

The sentences and arguments that you will use in your work should be specific but not written in strict form. You should choose the point of support of your arguments and the main opinion and stick to it throughout the work.

Sometimes arguments have to be more specific and sometimes unobtrusively described in the body of the essay.

You should try to provide information as if “by the way” so that the reader feels like you are referring to him through the text and want to explain your impressions specifically to him. Contact with the reader is very important in this form of writing.

The Paradox

One of the most important qualities of an essay is that it should surprise the reader. You should use some strong phrases or quotes that will support your argument throughout the work.

The advantage will be on your side if you use paradoxical definitions or phenomena, which will appear simultaneously as indisputable but mutually exclusive statements. Feel free to use abstracts and aphorisms.

Meaningful Unity

This is probably the only paradox of the genre (not including the point written above). Why? Because the essay must be subjective , it must have a free composition and characteristics, but at the same time, it must have an internal semantic unity.

Your personal opinion should be expressed and supported here. Actually, this is about supporting the same opinion, which you will support with different thesis and statements. All of them should bring the idea of ​​the essay to one specific conclusion, that is your opinion.

Use of Simple Language

Your essay can be written in any form, but at the same time, it is not necessary, or better to say, you cannot use slang, shortening words, light-hearted tone, using strange abbreviations, and formulaic phrases. Do not forget that this is a serious piece of work with specific arguments and not an arbitrary letter to a friend.

Authoritarianism

You should submit information in such a way as to persuade the reader to adopt the same position he supports in his work. The author should not use aggressive words, but his arguments should be specific, and they should be considered indisputable.

Good Essay Qualities

Use an Element of Surprise

To make your essay memorable, do not be afraid to use catchy phrases, loud quotes, and unexpected arguments. This will arouse emotions in the reader, and your essay will be remembered. The main thing is that the used arguments are not aggressive, do not contradict your basic opinion, and are not written in rough language.

The Logic of Presentation.

Again, despite the free composition, the essay must have internal unity and the coherence of the author’s statements that express his opinion.

Because the rules of writing an essay are rather conditional, the author has the opportunity to fully indulge in his creative potential and use various interesting methods for writing this genre of paperwork.

The main thing to remember is that your thoughts and arguments should be united and interest the reader to read your work and take your side.

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Part One Academic Writing Essentials

Unit 3 Parts and Characteristics of a Good Paragraph

Learning Objectives

  • To identify the parts of a paragraph: title, topic sentence, supporting sentences with details, concluding sentence, and transitions
  • To understand how each part relates to one another within a paragraph through multiple examples
  • To learn the key characteristics of a paragraph: format, unity, cohesion, and completion through multiple examples
  • To practice writing each part of a paragraph with key characteristics through a variety of exercises

a group of children laughing and running outdoors

Read the paragraph “Missing My Childhood Days” below and do the activities that follow.

Missing My Childhood Days

          Thanks to two people and one place, my childhood was filled with fun. The first special person was my cousin Hector. I was the only child to my mom, and he was the only child to his mom. We were not lonely because we played and enjoyed family trips together. I loved playing hide and seek with him the most. The running, anticipating [1] , shouting, and laughing will always be in my memories. Secondly, I really miss my best friend Lisandra from my elementary school. Our moms were best friends, so it was easier for us to do many things together. For example, we used to explore the resorts and hotels near our homes. We imagined how we could decorate our own houses as elegantly as the hotels. Additionally, Lisandra had a little sister called Lolanda, and we loved to play with her and care for her as if she were our own baby. We fed her and sang songs to her. Even though I lost contact with Lisandra after she switched to a different school, our time together was very precious to me. Lastly, I really miss my childhood home. It was a big house with a patio decorated with pots of beautiful flowers. The house was large enough for me to ride my bike inside. There was also a pool. We had many family parties there. Playing riddles [2] by the poolside was one of the most popular games among us. Nowadays I do not have Hector and Lisandra in my life, and my childhood house has long been sold. However, I am grateful for having them all in my past because they have left me with priceless [3] memories.

By K. P. Checo (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. U sed  with permission.

Discuss in groups:

  • What are your most unforgettable childhood memories? Why are they unforgettable?
  • What three areas of childhood does the author miss the most?
  • What is the main idea of the above paragraph? Where do you find it in the paragraph?
  • Where is the title?
  • How does the author begin the paragraph?
  • What is the spacing between one line to the next?
  • Does each new sentence start a new line?
  • What do you think a paragraph is?
  • What do you like about this paragraph?
  • How would you improve the paragraph?
  • If you could ask the writer a question, what would you ask?

II. Definition of a Paragraph

A paragraph is a group of sentences about one main idea. The goal of a paragraph is to communicate to the readers what you think of a topic (your main idea) and why you believe this way (your supporting ideas). A paragraph also follows a certain format. Paragraph writing is the foundation [4] for all types of academic writing assignments such as essays and research papers.

III. Paragraph Format

You can see the format of a paragraph from “Missing My Childhood Days”:

  • Center the title in the middle of the top line.
  • Start the paragraph with indentation (a few open spaces in the beginning).
  • Type or write double spaced.
  • Each sentence follows the one before it without starting a new line.
  • Use font size 12 if you type. (The font size may be hard for you to determine in this web-book.)

IV. Parts of a Paragraph

Understanding each part of a paragraph is an important step to good writing. One way to do this is to identify and color code each part.

Title – pink          Topic sentence – red               Supporting sentences – green

Supporting details – blue           Concluding sentence – red         Transitions – yellow

When you color code the parts, you know that

  • you understand the paragraph organization.
  • you are not missing any important compone n ts.
  • all the parts are in the right order.
  • the supporting details ( blue ) should be the longest and the most detailed.

          Thanks to two people and one place, my childhood was filled with fun. The first special person was my cousin Hector. I was the only child to my mom, and he was the only child to his mom. We were not lonely because we played and enjoyed family trips together. I loved playing hide and seek with him the most. The running, anticipating, shouting, and laughing will always be in my memories. Secondly , I really miss my best friend Lisandra from the elementary school. Our moms were best friends, so it was easier for us to do many things together. For example, we used to explore the resorts and hotels near our homes. We imagined how we could decorate our own houses as elegantly as the hotels. Additionally, Lisandra had a little sister called Lolanda, and we loved to play with her and care for her as if she were our own baby. We fed her and sang songs to her. Even though I lost contact with Lisandra after she switched to a different school, our time together was very precious to me. Lastly , I really miss my childhood home. It was a big house with a patio decorated with pots of beautiful flowers. The house was large enough for me to ride my bike inside. There was also a pool. We had many family parties there. Playing riddles by the poolside was one of the most popular games among us. Nowadays I do not have Hector and Lisandra in my life, and my childhood house has long been sold. However, I am grateful for having them all in my past because they have left me with priceless memories.

By K. P. Checo (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. U sed with permission.

Exercise 1.  Use Paragraph “Missing My Childhood Days” as an example. Read Paragraph “Difficulties in English Writing” and identify the parts with the following colors:

Title – pink          Topic sentence – red           Supporting sentences – green

Supporting details – blue         Concluding sentence – red         Transitions – yellow

Difficulties in English Writing

          For me, writing is one of the most difficult skills to learn  in English. First, w ith writing comes spelling. Many words are pronounced the same but spelt completely differently, like flower and flour, blue and blew. I need extra effort s  to learn and remember how to spell and write them correctly. Another c hallenge I face i n English is sentence structure . There are many types of sentences in English such as  simple, compo und, and complex. Each type has its own punctuation rules. It takes a lot of hard work to understand how to build sentences effectively . Finally, grammar is challenging . My professors emphasize the importance of grammar because it plays a significant role in writing. Unfortunately, it is  also one of  the difficulties for me because  it has many , many rules and exceptions. For example, in  count  and noncount nouns unit , there are many confusing words like police and family . At first, I  thought the word “police” was singular, but in fact it is plural. In contrast, I thought the word “family” was plural, but it is singular in many situations ! Mistakes in singular and plural nouns lead to errors in verbs. Despite all these d ifficulties in spelling, sentence structure, and gramm a r , writing remains to be one of my favorite aspects of learning .

By A. Alsalman (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. U sed with permission.

Read the above two paragraphs again, and you can see that a good paragraph consists of:

  • A title – to show the topic and catch the readers’ interest pink
  • A beginning called the topic sentence – to show the main idea  red
  • A middle called the supporting sentences and details – supporting sentences to explain the main idea    green ; details to explain the supporting sentences  blue
  • Transitions or connecting words – to connect the ideas and guide the readers  yellow
  • An ending called the concluding sentence(s) – to finish the paragraph  red

a hamburger

Paragraph Organization – the Hamburger Way

To make a tasty hamburger, you need to take time to get the ingredients ready and stack [5] them up carefully. Planning and organizing your ideas for a good paragraph can be very similar to making a hamburger.

parts of a hamburger between two hands

  • The sesame seeds on the top piece of bread is what you see as you unwrap a hamburger. It is like the title of a paragraph.
  • The top piece of the bread is the first part of the hamburger. It is like the topic sentence .
  • The middle part is what makes the hamburger delicious. The more ingredients you add, the tastier the hamburger is. This part is like the supporting sentences with details . More details for the paragraph will make it more interesting to read.
  • You also add condiments like mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise to not only make the hamburger juicier but also help the other ingredients like tomato slices and beef patties stick together. Those condiments are like transitions .
  • The last piece of the bread makes the hamburger complete. The bread is made with the same ingredients as the top piece but with a different shape. This is like the concluding sentence. It restates the topic sentence but in a different way.

Below, you are going to learn how to write each part.

V. Title of a Paragraph

A title gives the readers information about what you write in the paragraph. It usually states or implies [6] the topic of your writing.

1. A good title is often very short. Sometimes it is only one word or one phrase. It is usually not a complete sentence.

The Best Invention

The Reasons for My Mediterranean Diet

The Characteristics of a Good Boss

2. A good title catches the readers’ interest. It tells the readers about the main topic, but it does not tell everything.

 Why Not Studying Hard?

 A Long-Kept Secret

To Mask or Not to Mask

3. A good title follows capitalization and punctuation rules.

  • The first letter of the first word is always capitalized.
  • Do not capitalize a short preposition, an article, or a coordinating conjunction unless it is the first word.
  • Never capitalize the entire title.
  • Do not put a period at the end.
  • Do not put quotation marks around the title.
  • Do not underline the title.

Discuss each pair of the titles below and notice how the errors are corrected.

the day I arrived in Chicago  X 

lots of books showing titles on shelves

The Day I Arrived in Chicago  √

THE MAKING OF A DOCTOR  X

The Making of a Doctor  √

A Very Frustrating Experience.  X

A Very Frustrating Experience  √

“Advice from My Mother”  X

Advice from My Mother  √

The Mysterious Noise   X

The Mysterious Noise  √

For more explanations and examples in capitalization, please refer to Appendix B Capitalization . ( Open Appendix B here.)

Exercise 2.  Here are the titles of some paragraphs. Do they follow the rules? Write the correct title in the box. After you finish all the titles,  you can check your answers by clicking the “Check” button.  You may retry the exercise or see all the answers.

Example : 

From my home to school                                             

Correction: From My Home to School

VI. Topic Sentence

A topic sentence is a sentence that contains the main idea of a paragraph. It is usually put in the beginning of a paragraph. A good topic sentence has two essential parts and one optional part:

  • the topic of your paragraph
  • the controlling idea – your attitude/opinion about the topic
  • (optional but preferred) predictors – the points you are going to explain in the body of the paragraph

In each pair of topic sentences below, one contains the topic and controlling idea. The other has the topic, controlling idea, and predictors. Identify each part and discuss which topic sentence you like better. Explain your reasons.

  • My writing class is important in helping me prepare for college study.
  • My writing class is important in helping me prepare for college study because I learn how to plan, write, and edit my own writing.
  • I enjoy three aspects of my writing class.
  • I enjoy three aspects of my writing class: my professor, my classmates, and the course materials.
  • Many students feel stressed out in the writing class for three reasons.
  • Because of long class periods, daily homework assignments, and lots of tests, many students feel stressed out in the writing class.,
  • Writing in English is very different from writing in my native language.
  • Writing in English differs from writing in my nature language in style, sentence structure, and punctuation.

Rules for a good topic sentence:

1. It must be a complete sentence that contains a subject and a verb.

a light bulb surrounded by six circles

  •  My interesting writing class (not a complete sentence)  X
  •   How to improve writing skills (not a complete sentence)  X
  •  My writing class is interesting for three reasons. (a complete sentence)  √
  •  In my writing class, I am learning how to improve writing skills in three ways.  (a complete sentence)  √

2. It can be a positive or negative statement, not a question. If you ask a question in the beginning of the paragraph, you should answer it in the next sentence. That second sentence is the topic sentence.

  • Why is learning English important? (a question)  X
  •  What is the best way to improve writing skills? (a question)  X
  •  Why is learning English important? It is so because good English skills benefit people in their study, work, and daily life. (The second part is the topic sentence.)  √
  • What is the best way to improve writing skills? I have three suggestions for ESL students to improve writing skills. (The second part is the topic sentence.)  √

3. Narrow down your topic. General topics are difficult to focus on and write.

  • Year 2020 was a difficult year for me. (too broad)  X
  • The COVID pandemic in Year 2020 made it difficult for me to study. (more specific)  √
  • The COVID pandemic in Year 2020 made it difficult for me to study for three reasons: my classes went totally online in March, I could no longer use the college library and the Language Lab, and the poor Internet connection at home often interrupted my study on the course Blackboard site. (more specific)  √

4. Do not make an announcement.

  •  In this paragraph, I am going to talk about the disadvantages to online learning.  (an announcement)  X
  •  Let me explain the disadvantages to online learning. (an announcement)  X
  •  This paragraph is about the disadvantages to online learning. (an announcement)  X
  • There are three disadvantages to online learning. (not an announcement)  √
  • There are three disadvantages to online learning: no immediate feedback from the professors, no interactions with the classmates, and unstable Internet connection at home. (not an announcement)   √

5. Do not write a fact because your opinion (the controlling idea) is missing.

  • Harper College is a community college. (a fact)  X
  • My classmates come from twelve different countries. (a fact)  X
  • Harper College offers the best ESL programs in Illinois in three aspects: experienced professors, free tutoring, and the Language Lab. (Controlling idea “best” is added.)  √
  •  Representing twelve countries, my classmates are great resources for learning different cultures. (Controlling idea “great resources for learning different cultures” is added.)  √

Exercise 3.  Read the following topic sentences. Identify the topic, controlling idea, and predictors.  Type your answers in the boxes. When you complete the entire exercise, you can click “Check” for feedback. You may retry or see all the answers.

I miss my high school life for three reasons: friends, sports, and time for myself.

topic:   my high school life

controlling idea:   miss for three reasons               

predictors:   friends, sports, time for myself

Exercise 4. Are the following good topic sentences? If not, why not? How do you improve them?  Click “True” for good topic sentences and “False” for the wrong ones.  You will receive instant feedback after each sentence. If a topic sentence is wrong, you will see the correction and explanation in blue .

Electric cars

This is not a good topic sentence because it is not a complete sentence and the controlling idea is missing.                  

Correction:  I like electric cars  more than gas-powered cars.

VII. Supporting Ideas and Paragraph Unity

a man sitting on a bridge over a river

Supporting means “holding up”, just as the bridge is “holding up” the man in the image on the left . Supporting sentences are crucial in “holding up” the main idea while making your paragraphs interesting and convincing [7] . They must support or explain the main idea in the topic sentence.

A good strategy for logical supporting sentences is to predict the question the readers may ask about your topic sentence. The result of this planning is actually the paragraph outline you learned in Unit 2 The Writing Process. (Open Unit 2 here.)

Paragraph Unity

Unity comes from the verb “unite” and means “hold tight, together”. In a paragraph, it means that all the supporting sentences work together to serve the same purpose: explaining the main idea.

Imagine two bouquets of flowers. Both look beautiful and in perfect harmony within themselves. However, if one sunflower is inserted in the middle of the roses, it will look out of place because it breaks the unity of the rose bouquet.

a rose bouquet

Then how do you tell if your paragraph has unity? There are two easy ways:

  • Ask yourself, “Does each supporting sentence explain the controlling idea in the topic sentence?” If yes, your paragraph has unity. If not, you need to delete or change the supporting sentence. It is helpful to circle or underline your controlling idea in the topic sentence for easier checking.
  • Always make an outline of the paragraph before you write. If you come up with a new idea while drafting the paragraph, put it in your outline first and ask yourself the first question.

Does the following paragraph outline show unity?

No, it does not show unity.  It contains irrelevant [8] ideas because they do not support the main idea “help college students”.  Here are ways to improve the outline:

  • Cross out the irrelevant ideas.
  • Add relevant information to support the main idea.
  • In the second support, a personal example is also added to make the paragraph more interesting.
  • In the third support, the new idea “manage time better” is a repetition of the second support “practice time management skills”. Therefore, it should be deleted. It is important not to repeat the same information that is already explained in other parts of the support.

Exercise 6.  Use the topic sentences below to build relevant supporting ideas. Check to make sure that all the ideas support the main idea in the topic sentence. Share your outline with your partner and discuss each other’s ideas.

Example :   

  • Topic sentence: Men can often be better care givers than women.
  • Topic sentence: People 18 years and older should serve two years in the military.
  • Topic sentence: Chicago is the most romantic city in the U.S.
  • Topic sentence: Chicago is the best place for children to visit on the weekend.

Exercise 7.  The following paragraph about a special place does not have unity.  There are four additional sentences to be deleted (not including the example). Type the numbers of the irrelevant sentences in the boxes below. When you complete the entire exercise, you can click “Check” for answers. You may also retry or see all the answers.  Sentence #4 is an example.

a balcony with a table, two chairs, and some plants

Types of Supporting Sentences

Good supporting sentences not only explain the main idea but also include interesting details such as

facts – numbers, general truths, scientific truths…

reasons – logical explanations…

experts’ opinion s – research findings, quotes by experts in the field…

examples – stories of well-known people, personal experiences, personal quotes…

Read Paragraph “Good Roommates” below and discuss how the writer uses the types of details. Color supporting ideas in green and the details in blue .

Good Roommates

          Having good roommates makes lives more enjoyable. First, good roommates understand each other’s need for peace and quiet after a day’s study. 1 They do not make unnecessary noises. For example, my roommate Abia and I have different class schedules. She spends the day at school, and I attend night classes. When I come back to the apartment very tired at 10 pm, she always turns down her music or speaks very softly on the phone with her friends. Moreover, good roommates share useful information. 2 Writer Barbara Dana once said, “A good roommate may be the single most important thing to have when one is away at school.” It is true because Abia’s and my families are far away. I have taken more courses at college, so I give Abia advice about classes, student clubs, and scholarships. She helps me in a different way. While I was looking for a part-time job last year, she told me about the job openings in her workplace. Finally, good roommates respect each other’s differences. 3 As the U.S. is a land of immigrants, it becomes the land of opportunities to learn different cultures and religions. I have learned about the significance of Ramadan for Abia, and she has understood the importance of Easter for me. Together, we have developed a good understanding of each other’s beliefs. In brief, good roommates help each other become more caring, supportive, and tolerant [9] . They make living easier in this complicated world.

In the first supporting details (first blue block marked with 1): personal examples of Abia and me

In the second supporting details (second blue block marked with 2): a quote by an expert, personal examples of Abia and me

In the third supporting details (third blue block marked with 3): general truth, logic, personal examples of Abia and me

Exercise 8.  Use Paragraph “Good Roommates” as an example, read Paragraph “No Capital Punishment” and discuss what types of interesting details the writer uses. Color the supporting ideas in green and the details in blue .

No Capital Punishment [10]

          Capital punishment should be banned [11] because the result cannot be changed, it is killing a life, and it does not stop the crime. First of all, the result of capital punishment is irreversible [12] ; therefore, it is important to be absolutely certain of a person’s guilt. Nevertheless, in some cases, this is simply impossible to prove a person’s guilt with 100% certainty. What if a person is wrongly charged? The death penalty will affect that person and his or her family forever. Next, capital punishment is killing. Killing people for any reason is wrong. Life is sacred, and humans do not have the right to decide the lives of others. Some people believe that capital punishment will stop criminals from committing crimes as they will be afraid to die. However, this is not the reality. Violent cases still occur daily. For instance, on the weekend of July 4 th , 2021, Chicago Sun Times reported that over 100 people were shot in Chicago and 19 of them died. That weekend was considered the deadliest and most violent in the city that year. This shows that putting criminals to death will not reduce the crime. For these reasons, death penalty should not be supported. The people and the government must find a better solution [13] to punishing the law breakers.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/crime/2021/7/3/22561910/chicago-weekend-shootings-july-2-5-homicide-gun-violence . Last accessed on July 10, 2021.

VIII. Transitions and Paragraph Cohesion

Cohesion focuses on the link between ideas so that they flow naturally from one to the next. When a paragraph has cohesion, ideas progress smoothly to create a connected whole.

waterfall in Yellowstone National Park

Imagine cohesion as a waterfall cascading [14] smoothly and continuously.

There are different ways to achieve cohesion. One of them is by using transitions.

Transitions are also called connecting words . They help the writer organize thoughts and guide the readers in understanding the order of ideas clearly. Transitions are often needed not only between supporting sentences but also within them.

Compare the two paragraphs “Applying for the John & Melanie Frieburg ESL Student Scholarship” below. Which one is better? Why is it better? Underline the transitions in Paragraph 2 that you do not see in Paragraph 1.

Paragraph 1

Applying for the John & Melanie Frieburg ESL Student Scholarship

          Applying for the John & Melanie Frieburg ESL Student Scholarship online is not hard if you follow these steps. Go to the scholarship page on the Harper College website and search for this specific scholarship. Read all the information related to it: the requirements, the deadline, and the amount of the award. Fill out the application form online completely and accurately. There are twelve supplemental [15] questions including your grades and financial situation. Do you have an average grade of C? A paragraph about your educational aspiration is required. Get two recommendation letters from two people who know you well. Be sure to ask them first and give them enough time to write the letters. Proofread your application and submit before the deadline. You can always ask help from the Scholarship Office, the ESL Department, or the One Stop Center. The process is easy to follow and well worth your efforts for this special honor.

Frieburg ESL Student Scholarship winners 2015/2016

Paragraph 2

          Applying for the John & Melanie Frieburg ESL Student Scholarship online is not hard if you follow these steps. First , go to the scholarship page on the Harper College website and search for this specific scholarship. Read all the information related to it, such as the requirements, the deadline, and the amount of the award. When you are ready , fill out the application form online completely and accurately. There are twelve supplemental questions including your grades and financial situation. For example, do you have an average grade of C? A paragraph about your educational aspiration is also required. Another step is to get two recommendation letters from two people who know you well. Be sure to ask them and give them enough time to write the letters. Finally, proofread your application and submit before the deadline. At any stage of your application, you can always ask for help in the Scholarship Office, the ESL Department, or the One Stop Center. As you can see, the process is easy to follow and well worth your efforts for this special honor.

With connecting expressions like “First”, “such as”, “When you are ready”, and other underlined transitions, Paragraph 2 explains the steps much more clearly.

How are the transitions used?

  •  The transition for the first supporting idea is often optional.
  • “Finally” is usually used to show the last supporting idea in the body of the paragraph. It is not used right before the conclusion.
  • The transition before the concluding sentence is optional.  It is actually more common without it.
  • After most transitions, there is usually a comma, but this is not always true.  There are different types of transitions with different punctuation rules.  You will learn them step by step throughout the course.
  • Do not overuse transitions; otherwise, the paragraph will read very unnatural. As you read and write more, you will gradually develop a sense of when a transition is or is not necessary.

Here are some common transitions:

Study Paragraph “Good Roommates” again. Notice how the three transitions ( first, moreover, finally ) connect the supporting ideas and the transition ( in brief ) is used before the concluding sentences.

Study Paragraph “No Capital Punishment” again. Notice how the transitions ( first of all, therefore, nevertheless, next, however, for instance ) are used to connect ideas between supporting ideas and within them. The transition ( for these reasons ) is placed before the concluding sentence.

Exercise 9.  Choose the appropriate transitions below and type them in the boxes to finish the paragraph about a daughter. There may be more than one correct answer, but type just one. Not all listed transitions are needed. When you complete the entire exercise, you can click “Check” for feedback. You may retry or see all the answers. The first one is an example.

first, second, next, in addition, also, furthermore, moreover, last, finally, for example, to sum up

Exercise 10.  Choose the appropriate transitions below and type them in the boxes to finish the paragraph about a life lesson. There may be more than one correct answer, but type just one. Not all listed transitions are needed. When you complete the entire exercise, you can click “Check” for feedback. You may retry or see all the answers. The first one is an example.

however, on the first Saturday, then, after crying for an hour,  while I was eating breakfast, now, at night, finally, after that, after I arrived

IX. Concluding Sentence(s)

A concluding sentence signals the end of a paragraph.

You can also write two or three sentences in this part with one or

words "THE END" on wooden pieces

more of the following methods:

  • Restates [16] the main idea but in different words or sentence structure.
  • Summarize the main points in the body of the paragraph.
  • Express an opinion, make a prediction, put forth a recommendation, or ask a question related to the topic.

A conclusion must not bring up a new topic.

×     For those three reasons, I enjoy swimming the most. I will also start playing basketball next week.

Exercise 11.  Compare the pairs of topic sentences and concluding sentences from the paragraphs you have studied in this unit. Then discuss in groups what method the concluding sentences use and how they relate to the topic sentences.

Paragraph “Missing My Childhood Days”

Topic sentence: Thanks to two people and one place, my childhood was filled with fun.

Concluding sentences : Nowadays I do not have Hector and Lisandra in my life, and my childhood house has long been sold. However, I am grateful for having them all in my past because they have left me with priceless memories.

The conclusion restates the main idea (they have left me with priceless memories), summarizes the three supporting points in the body (I do not have Hector and Lisandra in my life, and my childhood house has long been sold), and expresses an opinion (I am grateful for having them all in my past).   The conclusion relates to the topic sentence and explains the controlling idea very well.  

  • Paragraph “Difficulties in English Writing”
  • Paragraph “My Special Place”
  • Paragraph “Good Roommates”
  • Paragraph “No Capital Punishment”
  • Paragraph “Applying for the John & Melanie Frieburg ESL Student Scholarship”
  • Paragraph “My Daughter”
  • Paragraph “My Valuable Life Lesson”

X. Paragraph Completion

Each paragraph explains a complete idea and needs to have a clear ending. There are several ways to check if the paragraph is complete:

a checklist and a yellow pencil

  • Does the paragraph have a title?
  • Is the topic sentence there?
  • If you have predictors in the topic sentence, are all of them explained in the body of the paragraph?
  • Are there details to further explain the supporting ideas?
  • Do you have a concluding sentence at the end?
  • Are there proper transitions to connect ideas?

If any one part is missing, the paragraph is incomplete.

Read the following paragraph. Is it complete? If not, discuss what is missing and how you can improve the paragraph.

          Jogging is beneficial physically, mentally, and socially. First, jogging makes people physically fit. It not only strengthens the muscles and immune system but also helps to reduce weight. Thirty minutes of jogging will burn about 250 calories. Extra weight causes all kinds of health problems, and a daily run will help shed [17] the extra pounds. Besides, jogging keeps people mentally healthy by reducing their stress. Modern life is full of anxieties. Workers have project deadlines, students take tests, parents deal with family financial challenges, and all people run into relationship issues from time to time. According to many doctors, jogging can act as a stress reliever [18] , boost [19] the feel-good hormone, and distract people from daily worries. Jogging is a simple act of activity that helps people become healthier in many ways.

What is missing?

  • There is no title.  Add a title, such as “The Best Exercise” or “The Benefits of Jogging”.
  • The third support is missing. From the topic sentence, the readers expect to see support in three areas: physical, mental, and social. However, the writer did not discuss the “social” aspect of jogging. Therefore, the paragraph is incomplete. The writer should add some information about the social benefits of jogging. Ideas could include joining a jogging club and meeting new friends.

Exercise 12.    Use the above paragraph as an example. Is the following new one complete? If not, discuss what is missing and how you can improve the paragraph.

unleashed dogs on beach

       Unleashed dogs are dangerous to the environment, other living beings, and even to themselves. First of all, dogs do not have minds like humans; therefore, they often do not know what proper behavior is in public. When they are not restricted by a leash, they can run and step on flowers and plants in the parks.  They may also leave their waste there if their owners are unaware of it. What’s more, dogs can frighten the pedestrians on the street. Some of them are afraid of dogs and may experience intense fear when a dog jumps at them. Dogs may also scare drivers. What if they lose control of their vehicles? Other animals like ducks and geese will also find the running and barking “strangers” threatening. Lastly, unleashed dogs are a danger to themselves. There are many hidden holes on the roads and in the parks, and dogs can easily fall into them and hurt themselves. Because dogs can also cause traffic accidents, they may be injured as well. If there is construction nearby with heavy machinery and harmful chemicals, the consequences will be deadly to the dogs.

XI. Unit Review Practice

Exercise 13. Read the following paragraph about online learning. It is based on an outline example you studied earlier in this unit. As you read, do the following:

Color code the paragraph:

Title – pink           Topic sentence – red             Supporting sentences – green  

Supporting details – blue       transitions – yellow       Concluding sentence(s) – red

 Discuss:

  • Have you taken an online class? If so, have you had similar experiences as described in this paragraph?
  • What types of supporting ideas and details are used to explain the main idea?
  • Does the paragraph have unity?
  • What types of conclusion are used?
  • Is the paragraph complete?
  • Is the title centered on the top line? Is the first sentence indented?
  • How do you improve the paragraph?

a MacBook, a notebook, etc. on a desk

Three Benefits of Online Classes for College Students

          Taking online classes helps college students in three significant ways. First of all, online classes provide many conveniences. Many college students have a job, and some also need to take care of their family.  When the courses are online, the students often do not have a fixed class time. As a result, they can pick any shift available at work, and they can also schedule activities with their loved ones like going to the park or even going on a vacation. For those with small children, childcare is no longer a huge issue. In addition, some college students do not own a car, but their education will not be affected because they can take classes remotely. Secondly, college students improve their time management skills. I have learned to use my time more wisely. For example, during my first semester of online class, I spent a lot of time video chatting with my friends in the beginning. My professor set all the test deadlines by midnight each Sunday, so I postponed my study till Saturday.  However, there was too much reading and practicing then, and I simply could not complete the required study to get a good grade.  In the second half of the semester, I forced myself to make a schedule for daily study time and to be more disciplined [20] in following it. I was able to finish all the materials before the test, and my grade improved. The most important skill through online learning is independent learning. Even though professors are available through office hours, emails, and live sessions, students must learn to solve problems on their own most of the times. They can do so by reading, checking dictionaries, and finding additional online learning resources from YouTube videos or the Khan Academy website. The type of “self help” foster skills in independent learning, which is essential in college study and future profession. Taking online classes is challenging, but these benefits make their experiences worthwhile.

  NSNT Practice

a pen writing in a notebook

Go to The NSNT Free Writing Approach and Additional Weekly Prompts for Writing in Appendix A. ( Open Appendix A here. ) Choose two topics to practice the steps in the writing process, including writing a paragraph for each. You may start with the NSNT approach and then rewrite the paragraphs. Check to see that the paragraphs have all the necessary parts and that they follow the rules for format, unity, cohesion, and completion.

Vocabulary Review

a page in a dictionary

The words here have appeared in this unit.  The best way to learn them is to guess the meaning of each word from the context.  Then hover your computer mouse over the number beside each word to check its meaning and part of speech. These words are also listed in the footnote area at the end of each unit.

Here, you can use the flashcards below to review these words.

  • A paragraph is a group of sentences with one main idea.
  • A paragraph must follow a proper format, with the title in the center of the top line and an indent in the beginning of the paragraph. All the sentences should be written/typed double spaced and follow one another without starting a new line.
  • A paragraph consists of a title, a topic sentence, several supporting ideas with details, 1-2  concluding sentences, and transitions.
  • Each paragraph should have all the above necessary components. If one of them is missing, the paragraph is not complete.
  • A title explain the topic of the paragraph or gets the readers interested in the topic. It is centered on the first line and should follow the capitalization rules.
  • A topic sentence contains the main idea of a paragraph and is usually put in the beginning. It must have a topic and a controlling idea.  It must be a complete sentence and should not be a fact or an announcement.
  • Supporting sentences should be detailed and should help explain the topic sentence. If anything is irrelevant to the main idea, the paragraph will not have unity.
  • A concluding sentence restates the main idea and signals the end of the paragraph. It can include an opinion, a suggestion, a recommendation, or a question that is related to the topic.
  • Transitions are important in guiding the readers in understanding the information in the paragraph and providing a smooth connection between ideas.  Transitions help maintain the cohesion of a paragraph.

Media Attributions

  • a group of children running and laughing outdoors © Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash
  • a hamburger © Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash
  • parts of a hamburger © Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash
  • lots of books showing titles on shelves © Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
  • a light bulb surrounded by six circles © Pixabay
  • a man sitting on a bridge over a river © Photo by Alex Azabache on Unsplash
  • a rose bouquet © Photo by Enrique Avendaño on Unsplash
  • a sunflower bouquet © Photo by Farrinni on Unsplash
  • a balcony with a table, two chairs, and some plants © Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash
  • waterfall in Yellowstone National Park © Lin Cui is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license
  • ESL Scholarship winners 2015/2016 © Lin Cui is licensed under a All Rights Reserved license
  • words “THE END” on wooden pieces © Photo by Ann H from Pexels
  • a checklist and a yellow pencil © Tumisu on Pixabay
  • unleashed dogs on beach © Photo by Laura Stanley from Pexels
  • a MacBook, a notebook, etc. on a desk © Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash
  • a pen writing in a notebook © Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
  • a page in a dictionary © Pixabay
  • anticipate: verb, wait for something to happen ↵
  • riddle: noun, a game of guessing the answers ↵
  • priceless: adjective, very valuable, cannot be measured by a price ↵
  • foundation: noun, basis, groundwork of something more complicated ↵
  • stack: verb, to pile or put one on top of another ↵
  • imply: verb, say indirectly ↵
  • convincing: adjective, make people believe ↵
  • irrelevant: adjective, not related, having nothing to do with the main idea ↵
  • tolerant: adjective, accepting differences ↵
  • capital punishment, noun phrase, a type of punishment to kill a criminal ↵
  • ban: verb, stop, not allowed to happen ↵
  • irreversible: adjective, cannot go back to the original situation ↵
  • solution: noun, the answer to a problem ↵
  • cascade: verb, flow from high to low smoothly ↵
  • supplemental: adjective, extra, additional ↵
  • restate: verb, write again, repeat ↵
  • shed: verb, get rid of ↵
  • stress reliever: noun phrase, something to reduce or take away stress ↵
  • boost: verb, raise, improve ↵
  • disciplined: adjective, self-controlled, strict with oneself ↵

Building Academic Writing Skills Copyright © 2022 by Cui, Lin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

COMMENTS

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    explaining; giving reasons; examining or anticipating consequences. comparing, contrasting and evaluating. considering both sides of an issue. taking a position. supporting your claims with credible evidence. investigating claims made by others and, if appropriate, questioning the evidence. drawing conclusions.

  3. PDF ACADEMIC WRITING

    The Into the Essay examples come from papers on Shakespeare's play Hamlet. I'm a Shakespeare nut, and one key to good writing is to write about what you care about. You don't need to know or like Hamlet to benefit from these examples, which provide models for your own passions and papers.

  4. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    with a strong analytical question that you will try to answer in your essay. Your answer to that question will be your essay's thesis. You may have many questions as you consider a source or set of sources, but not all of your questions will form the basis of a strong essay. For example, your initial questions

  5. PDF The Basics: The Anatomy of a Good Essay

    It is the task of each essay to explain and communicate clearly a single idea or argument through engagement with a primary text or texts, situated within a historical or critical context. Crucially, a good essay doesn't progress through plot summary—resist shadowing the novel, sto-ry, or poem's chronology in your own essay.

  6. (PDF) Academic writing: the essay

    The essay is a particular genre of writing that is at the heart of academic writing today. Criteria of excellence in this genre have been identified, and should be observed. All essay. writers ...

  7. PDF Components of a Good Essay Intro

    1. Chronological order---order of time, good for narratives 2. Spatial order-good for descriptions of locations; top to bottom, e.g. 3. Emphatic order-least important to most important; most common for college writing Ensure that transition sentences are present to create a good flow to the essay

  8. The Characteristics of Good Writing

    However, we can cull together a general list of the characteristics of good writing (in no particular order): Clarity and focus: In good writing, everything makes sense and readers don't get lost or have to reread passages to figure out what's going on. Focused writing sticks with the plot or core idea without running off on too many tangents.

  9. What are the characteristic features of a good essay?

    2. Write as many paragraphs as you need to make all the points of your argument. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that does two things: supports your thesis and controls the content of ...

  10. PDF CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY

    CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY. Portrays people, places, or things with vivid details to help the reader create a mental picture of what is being described. Involves the reader so that he or she can visualize what or who is being described. Creates or conveys a dominant impression of what is being described through sensory details.

  11. What Is an Essay? The Definition and Main Features of Essays

    10 Characteristics of a Good Essay. The structure and characteristics vary, but there are criteria you can apply to almost any academic essay. Below are ten characteristics that make a good essay. Brevity. You can find many works like Victor Segalen's Essay on Exoticism: An Aesthetics of Diversity that span across many pages.

  12. PDF Academics' Views on the Characteristics of Academic Writing

    shortcomings. The purpose of this research is to examine the characteristics of academic writing based on the views of the academicians creating it. A semi -structured interview form was created on Google Docs virtual office for this research using qualitative research methodology. Thus, 30 academicians

  13. Top 10 Qualities of a Good Essay

    Free Composition. The Ease. The Paradox. Meaningful Unity. Use of Simple Language. Authoritarianism. Use an Element of Surprise. The Logic of Presentation. Here are some basic points and qualities of good writing that will make your essay successful:

  14. Unit 3 Parts and Characteristics of a Good Paragraph

    Understanding each part of a paragraph is an important step to good writing. One way to do this is to identify and color code each part. Title - pink Topic sentence - red Supporting sentences - green. Supporting details - blue Concluding sentence - red Transitions - yellow. When you color code the parts, you know that.

  15. PDF Five Qualities of Good Writing

    are considered "good" and for many different reasons. There is no formula or program for writing well. However, there are certain qualities that most examples of good writing share. The following is a brief description of five important qualities of good writing. The qualities described here are especially appropriate for academic and ...

  16. Five Qualities of Good Writing PDF

    The document discusses five qualities of good writing: focus, development, unity, coherence, and correctness. It defines each quality and provides examples. Focus refers to a clear central idea and topic sentences. Development means supporting the central idea with examples and details. Unity is about how each paragraph relates to the main idea. Coherence means the writing is logically ...

  17. PDF Qualities of a good essay: an assessment of the writings of Nigerian

    It (essay) also requires a person to acquire a firm grasp of the subject of discourse as well as the world view and the views of others (e.g. consumers) on the particular subject of discourse. (Okono 2020: 67) A good essay must possess some salient qualities or characteristics that will make it rich in content and style.

  18. (PDF) Characteristics of Good Research

    Characteristics of Good Research. 1. The purpose of the research should be clearly defined (aims and. objectives). 2. The need and significance of the topic of research must be stated. 3. Research ...

  19. PDF Twelve Characteristics of an Effective Teacher

    Those characteristics consistently affected students in positive ways. This article results from a longitudinal, qualitative, quasi-research study of students in education, including in-service as well as pre-service teachers. An out-of-class essay assignment asked this question: What were the qualities of the most memorable teacher who encouraged

  20. PDF Twelve Characteristics of a Good Proposal

    Chapter 4 pp. 76-82: The Insider's Guide to Grantmaking How Foundations Find, Fund, and Manage Effective Programs. Proposals come in all shapes, lengths, and sizes; as program officer, you can review them according to any number of criteria. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify some generic characteristics that are hallmarks of a good ...

  21. PDF What makes a good researcher?

    Let us now discuss the community structure of these graphs. (a) Degree distribution of undirected network(s) (c) Out-degree distribution of directed network(s) (b) In-degree distribution of directed network(s) (d) SCC distribution of all networks. Figure 1: Properties of graphs. Table 1: Properties of graphs. Property.

  22. (PDF) Characteristics of Effective Leadership

    Hence, it is vital for them to be well-aware in terms of characteristics of effective leadership. The characteristics of effective leadership are, honesty and integrity, confidence, skills and ...