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Paragraphs and Transitions
From: Writing Tips by Professor Elizabeth Outka

A good paragraph has three central elements:

1. A topic sentence

Topic sentences tell your reader what the paragraph will concern. They must do this, but they should also act as signposts through your paper, gently guiding your readers through your argument by letting them know where you are and where you are headed. A reader (including you) should be able to get the gist of your paper and its developing argument by reading the opening sentences of each paragraph.

Topic sentences should accomplish three things:


2. Support

Once you've presented your topic, you can then offer evidence from the text in the form of quotations or brief descriptions of plot elements. If you are presenting a contrast, you'll need to offer evidence on both sides. It's not enough, of course, simply to muster a list of evidence; alongside this evidence, you have to offer your own analysis. How do these plot details support your point? How should a reader interpret the details you offer?


3. Conclusion

Concluding sentences to paragraphs are tricky. You don't want to be too mechanical, but you also don't want to leave your reader hanging. The best thing to aim for is a modest reflection on the significance of support. Now that you've shown your evidence, what can you conclude?


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