The Sunday News
USE paragraphs to organise ideas for your reader.
Sometimes it is necessary to move in circles for the benefit of learners. I have discussed composition writing skills for weeks to date, but, I have found that some points would have not been fully addressed. For instance, we have covered different types of essays and how you can begin compositions.
We learnt that you set the scene in the introduction which marks the first paragraph of your essay. In the next paragraph you show what happens next in a number of paragraphs. For example, you can write down what your main character is doing under “setting the scene”. Many learners are found wanting when it comes to paragraphing their work. It is a known fact that teachers spend a lot of time teaching learners on key issues like paragraphing their work.
But learners still display weaknesses in this area even after cramming the definition of what a paragraph is. There are quite a number of definitions proffered by different writers. One reads: “A paragraph is a section of a piece of writing. It is made up of sentences carrying forward an idea. It may consist of one or more sentences, or even a word or two. A paragraph always begins on a new line”. A constant reminder of this I believe will result in less numbers of learners writing a full page without any paragraphs.
We have learnt that a composition is made up of a beginning, a middle and an ending. The beginning is the introduction or the introductory paragraph. Note that the middle is made up of more paragraphs since it moves the story forward. The ending is the conclusion which consists of a single paragraph. So the composition is made up of the introduction. After the introduction present a problem if your topic allows you to do. From there move on to the highest point also known as the climax of the story.
At times it is referred to as the peak, crux or topmost part of your composition. There could be a lot of tension at the highest point of your composition. What this means is that after reaching the climax, you move your story towards the end by offering the resolution to the problem you talked about earlier. Do not leave readers in suspense after hooking them to follow what could be an interesting composition.
Talking about the ending of the composition, many learners assume that it is the easiest part of essay writing, but to their surprise, it is quite challenging. Learners should move away from the shallowest kind of reasoning where they just repeat the words of the title for the ending. This kills the momentum of the composition. What these learners forget is that the ending, too, must be interesting. Just like we heard before and like the beginning it may contain figurative expressions, similes, metaphors, idiomatic expressions and proverbs to mention but a few.
Key points to remember about paragraphing: Paragraphs must clearly express an idea and must not be too long. Paragraphs must be linked together since they form a chain which makes up one story. Each paragraph begins on a new line and paragraphs must be arranged in chronological order that best outlines the story. This exercise has been done to help learners produce good compositions. They should have been following the suggestions offered by various writers on these pages.
It should be noted that we were concentrating on the structure of the composition. Learners should be creative to write good composition. But this on its own cannot produce the best essays, thus language aspects come into play. One writer says: “No matter how creative you are, if you are not good at English language you will never produce a good composition. You must, therefore, have a very good command of the English language. It is through practice that you can be a master in the field.”
The same writer suggests that to master the use of the English language read a lot of work written by others. Pay particular attention to sentence construction, punctuation, tenses, prepositions, paragraphing and spellings. The latter will have to be discussed further as many learners show weaknesses in this area. Practice composition writing by working with peers in groups. Do not isolate yourself. Your friends will help you improve on your grammar. Do not wait for your class teacher all the time. After you have done your written work, revise it for common errors and work on your vocabulary.
For learners to improve their English language command especially when writing compositions they should refer to their story connectives bank if they have any. Here are some examples of connectives which they can use: One afternoon, suddenly, then, in the end, first, next, soon, at that moment, finally, lastly, early/late one morning, after a while, as soon as, without warning, although, though, and on the other hand. Learners can use these connectives and many others not listed here to improve their composition starts and conclusions.
Learners can also be given lists of words with tricky spellings to study. They can learn how to spell them, learn their meanings and use them in sentence construction. These are can be used as self-help projects without waiting for the teacher’s help. Next time we will look at spellings, punctuation and other language aspects.
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