Wordsmith 5e Ch04 Essay

Submitted By KenpachiSama
Words: 5165
Pages: 21


Writing Paragraphs:
Chapter Goal: Construct sentences that support your topic sentence.



hether it is a column that holds up a roof or a sentence that helps to hold up a paragraph, support must be strong and solid. In fact, specific support is one of the keys to good writing. Before looking at paragraph support, review the following four principles of effective writing. The highlighted principle, support, is the focus of this chapter.

Wordsmith: A Guide to Paragraphs and Short Essays, Fifth Edition, by Pamela Arlov. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2012 by Pearson Education, Inc.

ISBN 1-256-69932-2




Characteristics of an Effective Paragraph
1. Direction means that the paragraph has a strong topic sentence that states the main idea and sets the course that the paragraph will follow.
2. Unity means that the paragraph makes one main point and sticks to that point. 3. Coherence means that the ideas in the paragraph are logically connected and easy to follow.
4. Support means that the paragraph contains a specific and detailed discussion of the idea stated in the topic sentence.

Focus on Support: Providing Convincing Detail
You may have heard about the court case involving McDonald’s and Stella Liebeck: She won approximately $3 million (later reduced to just over half a million) because she was burned by scalding coffee after leaving a drivethrough at McDonald’s. Many who hear about this case are outraged. It seems to prove that
Americans have become “lawsuit crazy.”
But those who get angry may not know all the facts. Liebeck received third-degree burns on over 16 percent of her body, mainly in the genital area. McDonald’s refused her initial request of $20,000 reimbursement of medical costs, saying that their coffee was not hot enough to cause such severe burns.
However, during the trial, McDonald’s admitted to heating their coffee to between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, McDonald’s later admitted, the coffee would burn anyone it was spilled on. These are just a few of the items Liebeck’s attorneys presented. (Source: http://www.centerjd.org/free/mythbusters-free/MB_mcdonalds.htm.)
The point here is that in court cases—as in academic papers and in all aspects of life—support is necessary to make something clear. If Liebeck’s attorney had simply said, “Stella was burned, and here are her records,” he would have lost the case. Strong supporting evidence helped win this case.

ISBN 1-256-69932-2

Reflect on It
Think about the last time you wanted something from someone—a parent, brother, sister, boss, or friend. Think of how you chose to present the problem and how you thought of all the reasons that would support your case. How important were your reasons to your presentation of your request? How much did your skill in presenting them affect the response to your request?

Wordsmith: A Guide to Paragraphs and Short Essays, Fifth Edition, by Pamela Arlov. Published by Longman. Copyright © 2012 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Support: Using Specific Detail
A strong topic sentence, unity, and smooth transitions give a paragraph structure and style. Only support can give it life. Without specific details, a paragraph remains on a broad, general level. What is it like to read a paragraph without specific details? Imagine watching a movie, television show, or video that never shows a closeup but instead maintains a camera distance of ten feet from every character. You would probably feel detached and uninvolved. Readers feel the same way when a writer never gets close enough to the subject to describe it in detail.

The Difference Between Topic Sentences and Supporting Sentences
A topic sentence provides direction—the road map for a paragraph—but supporting sentences supply the scenery. While topic sentences are broad and general, large enough to encompass the entire paragraph,