The Sunday News
Charles Dube, Highway to Success
THERE is something of interest which I have observed about subjects like English Language. The syllabi is always clear such that you can claim to have it all covered in a few weeks. The reason for this is that all learning revolves around the same topics. However, simple and clear as it seems, learners struggle to pass the subject with good grades. There is a tendency of taking issues for granted, yet they need to accurately master the concepts which appear straight forward.
This background information is given because today we return to the basics of essay writing in English Language though what is said here could also apply in other subjects. For example, how do you start your essay? You need to write a clear and punchy introduction to your answer — no waffling is allowed. Waffling means beating around the bush. This should be avoided. You should start your essay with a good introduction.
In your introduction you should introduce the overall point that your essay is making and do it clearly. The introduction gives a brief answer to the question. The rest of the essay expands on your answer and gives evidence for it. These two points are very important and you need to keep them in your mind when you are writing introductions of your own. Note that there are many ways of introducing your work. I will be asking for too much to suggest one particular way of doing that.
It is vital to start your answer out right. The introduction is very important — it sets the scene for the whole piece. A really good attention-grabbing one will make your reader want to read on but the opposite one will not.
Introductions are an important life skill as it applies in many spheres. When addressing an audience, you have to introduce your topic to set the parameters of your discussion. Teachers introduce their lessons to the learners.
Paragraphs — in the examination it is easy to forget to use paragraphs, but you have to use them if you are after a good grade. Your first paragraph should be an introduction. Paragraphs make your writing clearer. Here is a reminder about paragraphs. A paragraph is a group of sentences. These sentences are about the same thing, or follow on from each other. All of the sentences in a paragraph are related to each other. You need to start a new paragraph every time something new is introduced.
Paragraphs give structure to your answer and break it into separate points so it is easier to read. There are lots of different reasons for starting a new paragraph. Here are a few of them. Start a new paragraph every time something changes. For example, each time a new person speaks so you need to change paragraph, make use of this in composition writing, be it on narratives or short story writing. Start a new paragraph when you start writing about a different time.
Look at the following example: By three o’clock, the coach was angry, the players had not turned up for training again.
Five o’clock came and they did not appear, the coach felt that he had waited enough, he called it off and went home.
The first paragraph is about three o’clock. This one has gone forward to a different time. When you start writing about a new place you start a new paragraph and when you change to a new place change paragraph as well. You change a paragraph when you talk about a new person. Obviously, you change paragraph when you start writing about a new topic.
Sadly, knowing when to start a new paragraph is not enough — you need to make them flow. Paragraphs need to be linked. You have to link up every paragraph with the one before and the one after. Use words and phrases like these to make the link clear: therefore, however, again, for the same reason, and on the other hand. These relate the paragraph’s meaning to the previous paragraph’s meaning. These are the same words referred to as connectives at times.
You will get more marks if your paragraphs flow smoothly from one to the next, paragraphs should follow a clear order. Order your paragraphs so that there is a clear progression. Put your paragraphs in order of importance. I am advised that it is up to you how you do it — just make sure it makes sense. Order your paragraphs chronologically (in time order). This important — do not jumble or mix up your paragraphs.
Try to vary your style of your paragraphs. You do not want to make all your paragraphs exactly the same. That would be boring. You could repeat sentence structures or start with a rhetoric question. Remember these from the previous episode. Paragraphs make your work easier to read and understand.
Read more books and magazines and see how writers use paragraphs and the more you pay attention to this the better you will get at using them yourself.
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