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Writers' Center

Eastern Washington University

Writing Your Paper: Structure

Introductions

Funnel the reader into your specific topic by taking a hook, line and sinker approach to your introduction. When an essay starts right out the gate with information or quotations, it’s almost like cold water in the face, rather than being eased into it. While it is important to be concise and to the point in your opening paragraph , there is much to be said for keeping your reader interested by easing them into your main point.

  • Hook the reader with a unique statement or question that will spark the reader's interest. Questions are trickier to use than statements because if you answer the question immediately, the reader may feel as if you are wasting his/her time in the essay that follows.
  • Your line will be drawing a connection from that hook toward the issue you are addressing. This line will keep the reader interested.
  • Your sinker will usually be your thesis statement, which is your guiding purpose, or what keeps your essay in place. Ultimately, the goal is to keep the reader’s attention until you can start to reel them in with your essay’s paragraphs.

*Content adapted from the shared resources handouts on eTutoring.com.

Body Paragraphs

If you can, think of a paragraph as like a hamburger

  • The top bun of that hamburger is your topic sentence.  A topic sentence provides a mini summary of your paragraph’s main idea and looks back to your thesis and forward to the paragraph. 
  • Then, the meat of the paragraph is your evidence to support the main idea.  Along with the meat, you’ve got commentary by you unpacking the quoted material for readers. 
  • Lastly, the bottom bun of the hamburger is your closing.  The closing sentence(s) provides the paragraph with a finished feeling and connects to the thesis again.  The bottom bun usually does NOT lead into the next paragraph.  Instead, the closing deepens the significance of the paragraph’s main point and connects, again, to the thesis. 

This handout gives good information on paragraph development and unity:

http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/paragraphs.shtml

Topic Sentences

Here’s a link that helps explain how topic sentences are mini summaries of the paragraph to follow and, at the same time, relate to your thesis to help focus your paper: http://www.writingcentre.uottawa.ca/hypergrammar/partopic.html

The resource provides good examples and even a chance to practice identifying strong topic sentences: http://arts.uottawa.ca/writingcentre/en/hypergrammar/writing-paragraphs

Conclusions

Yes, it is true that writers must be careful not to introduce new points in the conclusion, but this does not mean the conclusion must just sum up points made previously in the body paragraphs.  How boring!  A good conclusion will explore the broader significance of your thesis.  You’ll expand your thinking outward a bit. This is a handy page on conclusions that gives a good example:   http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/conclude.html

 

Essay Structure

The overall structure of an essay with transitions may look something like this:

You can learn more about transitions HERE.

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