Writing Process: Body Paragraphs and Conclusion
STEP 7: BODY PARAGRAPHS
Each body paragraph starts with a topic sentence. A topic sentence has the same function for the paragraph that the thesis has for the whole essay: it clearly defines exactly what that paragraph will be about. This helps you identify what information to include in the paragraph, and also ensures that the information connects directly to your thesis statement.
This is the fifth entry in a series concerning the writing process. You can review the entire series at this link.
In order to write a topic sentence, you will need to use your outline. Look at the ideas that will be addressed in each body paragraph and write a sentence that encompasses all of them and supports the thesis statement. In fact, you may be able to include your topic sentences on your outline. Once you have the topic sentence in place, it is the measure by which you make sure all the information in the paragraph is where it should be. If it doesn’t connect to the topic sentence, you either need to alter the topic sentence, or move the information.
The other important thing to remember is that each idea must be explained. This was something I had to learn the hard way. When I started writing essays I wanted to be subtle and hint at ideas. The problem is that this led to a lack of clarity. Other people can’t see inside your head; they have to depend on what you’ve put on the page. So explain everything more than you think should be necessary. If it’s obvious to you, explain why.
This is especially important when you are using quotes or specific information from your sources in a research paper. A QUOTE NEVER SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. Every quote should be explained with twice as many words as it is long. You must explain both what the quote means and how it relates to the topic sentence.
STEP 8: CONCLUSION
Your conclusion mirrors the structure of your introduction. It starts with a concluding statement, which basically has the same content as the thesis. In American academic writing you first state what you will write about, then you write about what you said you would write about, and then you say “this is what I just wrote about.”
After the concluding statement, the conclusion allows you the chance to wrap up your topic and tie all the threads together. At the end of the conclusion, you open up the topic and show the audience how this topic is significant and how it connects to the world. You also have the option to include a call to action: the advocate for an action you believe needs to happen.
Read the sixth installment in this series: Part 9: Rewriting, Revising, Editing