by Hassan Abdulbaqi

A good essay is pleasing to read when it has well developed paragraph. If the whole sentences in your essays are crumbled up, it’ll be difficult to read or see through your important points. In order to score good marks as well, you should write essays with paragraphs that are well developed and properly linked. The illustration on how to do that will be provided in this article.

A paragraph is simply a section of a piece of writing, usually consisting of several sentences amidst others of its kind. It is usually noticed by its starting from a new line. Check the picture below from Amma Darko’s Faceless- for example,

This first line is a paragraph and the other is another paragraph. You can see each starts on a new line.

Now, that you have known what a paragraph is, we can now go on to discuss how to develop and write good paragraphs. As a grammatical rule in English, Every sentence must start in capital letters and as such, you know every new paragraph starts with a sentence. This means that each paragraph must start with a capital letter.

Your paragraph must contain a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a sentence in the paragraph which summarises everything that you intend to write in a paragraph. See this example for instance:

I wanted to be a lawyer, but I ended up being a teacher. I knew rich lawyers, but I knew no rich teachers. I knew famous lawyers, but I knew no famous teachers. The likes of Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Festus Keyamo et cetera really thrilled me in those days of no self-discovery. I was mesmerized by their fame and hypnotized by their names. The zeal was further oiled by the nearness of my father’s office to the high court in Ikorodu, and the nature of his work. This got me close to some of them and I would sometimes go witness court sessions where lawyers grammaticalised grandiloquently. (From Kay Yusuf Sanni’s BEING A TEACHER PAYS ). The topic sentence in this paragraph is “I wanted to be a lawyer, but I ended up being a teacher” because the other sentences are only explaining this paragraph. All other sentences in the paragraph only demonstrated the reason why he had wanted to be a lawyer. It is advisable that you make your first sentence the topic sentence so that your examiner knows what you want to discuss in each paragraph immediately after reading the first sentence.

A paragraph should center on a single idea or concept. What does this mean? It means that one paragraph should be basically about one thing. See this question: Your sister wants to marry a man from another ethnic group against your mother’s wishes. Write a letter to your mother giving at least three reasons why she should accept your sister’s decision. (JUNE 2002 WASSCE ENGLISH LANGUAGE 1) To write well developed paragraphs for the body of this letter, the first paragraph should be dedicated to asking your mother’s wellbeing and the general wellbeing of the family members. The second paragraph should start from a bit of introduction of why you have written the letter and how you got to know about the news. If the paragraph is short, you can follow it up with the first reason why you think your mother should accept your sister’s decision. The third paragraph should discuss your second reason and the fourth should discuss your third reason. If you have got more reasons, write them in different paragraphs and create a separate paragraph for salutation.

Apart from this, your examples and illustrations of an idea must be in the same paragraph with that idea. You should not create another paragraph for your instances, examples and illustrations. On the question written above, one of your reasons may be that there should not be any problem with your sister getting married to a man from another ethnic group in as much as they love each other. To support your claim, you may want to cite the examples of couples in your environment who, despite being from the same ethnic group, fight and quarrel each day. Read this, for example,

In addition, you always remind us that we should let love lead in all situations. You should allow Anti Remi marry her chosen partner since there is mutual love and trust between them. The fact that her fiancé is a Hausa, an ethnic group that is different from ours does not mean their marriage will end in chaos, as you must have believed. Come to think of it, dear mother, why are there broken marriages in our community despite the fact that the marriages in question are intra-ethnic marriages? Look at divorced Iya Memu for example, she got married to a Baba Ariya, a Yoruba like herself. I remembered you mentioned in your last letter that you’re fed up with Baba Mide and Iya Mide’s frequent quarrels and arguments which the Olori Ebi spends much of his time settling during every family meetings. They are both Yorubas. These point out to us that domestic violence and broken homes are not due to inter-ethnic marriages, but absence of mutual love and trust.

You can see that the examples of Iya Memu and Baba Mide are in the same paragraph with the idea, the reason and not in different paragraphs.

Next is that you should link your paragraphs properly. Don’t bring up a narration or an event that would make your examiner ask, “What’s happening? What happened before this?”, this is especially for narrative essays. You must not mix events together in a way that makes the examiner confused. If you writing a story for example, things are not just expected to happen. If the second paragraph ends with you discussing with Ade, you cannot just get pregnant in the third paragraph without the explanation because eating does not impregnate. Read Four Tips for Scoring High in Your SSCE English for more information about this.

Don’t forget that the length of your essays is  450 words and your time is limited. This is why you should make your paragraph moderate- neither long nor short. You can only produce a short paragraph if you don’t have much to write on the subject which may make you score low marks. This means you don’t understand the question. If it is too long, your time may be far spent and you tend to include unnecessary information that are irrelevant to your essay.

These are the comprehensive things you’ve got to know about writing a balanced, developed and well linked paragraphs.

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