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Once you’ve developed an outline, it’s time to begin drafting your essay. This lesson will walk you through the steps of putting together a body paragraph and show you how to ensure that your paragraphs are unified, coherent and well-developed.

Writing Structure

Once you’ve done some prewriting, developed your thesis statement and put together an outline, you’re finally ready to write your actual academic essay.

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Sure, you’ve put in a decent amount of work already without actually having any paragraphs to show for it, but your writing process should go much more quickly now that you’ve laid the groundwork.A good place to start your writing is with the first body paragraph of your essay, which will actually be the second paragraph of your paper. Your introduction will be the first paragraph, but many writers prefer to write that after having written the body of the paper, because at that point, a writer has a better sense of exactly what he or she will be introducing.You’ll track your outline pretty closely as you put together each body paragraph, which will consist of a topic sentence, supporting points and details and a concluding sentence that creates a good bridge to the next paragraph.

Body Paragraphs

With each body paragraph, you’ll want to accomplish a few key things.

First, each paragraph should be unified, meaning that all sentences in the paragraph stick to the main point of the paragraph. The topic sentence, which we drafted in the outlining stage, will serve as our reminder of what that main point is. Remember that a topic sentence is the sentence that expresses the main idea of a body paragraph or group of related body paragraphs.Additionally, each body paragraph should be coherent. That means that sentences should be presented in a logical order so that your reader can clearly follow your points.

Finally, each paragraph should be developed, meaning that each point should be supported and explained with details and examples. We’ll use these principles of unity, coherence and development as we write our first body paragraph of our essay.Our essay will respond to our writing prompt:Some states have made certain types of cell phone use illegal for drivers while they are operating motor vehicles. Some of these bans apply only to texting, and some bans apply to all handheld cell phone use. Some people argue that all cell phone use by drivers is dangerous and that all use by drivers should therefore be banned. Should your state completely ban all cell phone use for drivers while they are operating motor vehicles? Write a persuasive essay in which you present your argument.

Be sure to provide a clear thesis and examples in your essay.We already sketched out much of our outline for our essay. Here’s what a more complete outline for this topic might look like:Thesis: My state should completely ban all cell phone use for drivers while they are operating motor vehicles because such a ban would reduce distractions and save lives.I. A complete ban on all cell phone use for drivers would reduce distracted driving.

A. Even brief attention paid to a cell phone means that a driver isn’t watching the road.1. Picking up a cell phone, finding a contact number and placing a call all require a driver’s attention and would prevent him or her from paying close attention to the road.2. Research has shown that people are not able to pay full attention to more than one thing at a time.

This means that distracted driving is a real danger.B. Many drivers admit to cell phone use while driving, as well as to the fact that they’ve taken their eyes off the road for up to a few seconds at a time to use their phones.II. The complete cell phone ban should be put in place in our state because reduced distractions would mean fewer accidents, and this would save lives.A.

Evidence shows that a significant number of traffic accidents, some of which are deadly, are caused by distracted drivers.B. Many of the distracted drivers who cause accidents do so while using their cell phones.III. Making calls can be just as distracting as texting.A.

Some may argue that texting is the real danger because it’s more involved than simply talking on a cell phone.B. However, anyone who has taken a second while driving to place a call, queue up a song in a play list, or check email on a smartphone knows that any cell phone use while driving is dangerous.IV. A ban on all cell phone use for drivers would send a message that no distractions are acceptable for drivers.A. If our state were to ban only texting, as opposed to cell phone use, we’d be sending a message that other cell phone use is perfectly safe for drivers.

B. This is a particularly bad message to send to young people, who may think that as long as they’re not sending or receiving texts, it is not a problem to divert one’s attention from the road to one’s cell phone.Note that we have four major sections in our outline, one for each body paragraph. Let’s think about how we would convert the first major section of our outline into our first body paragraph for our essay.The major idea for this section – a complete ban on all cell phone use for drivers would reduce distracted driving – will serve as the topic sentence for our first body paragraph. We can follow that with our sub-point that even brief attention paid to a cell phone means that a driver isn’t watching the road.We’ve included a few details in our outline, the first of which states that picking up a cell phone, finding a contact number and placing a call all require a driver’s attention and would prevent him or her from paying close attention to the road.

We’ve followed that in our outline by stating that research has shown that people are not able to pay full attention to more than one thing at a time. This means that distracted driving is a real danger.Both of these details will be good to include in our paragraph, but our second detail may require just a bit more development. We might write this additional sentence: One study has shown that many traffic accidents have occurred in the few seconds in which drivers have diverted their attention to their cell phones while driving (Smith 22).

Note that we would have to cite any actual borrowed information that we use in our paper.Finally, we can use our next sub-point from our outline for this section as the last sentence in our paragraph. It states that many drivers admit to cell phone use while driving, as well as to the fact that they’ve taken their eyes off the road for up to a few seconds at a time to use their phones. This would work well as a conclusion since it provides support to our main argument in this paragraph. Further, it will work as a good transitional sentence into our next paragraph.

A transitional sentence is one that clearly and smoothly connects an idea in one paragraph to an idea in the next paragraph.Note that the topic sentence for our second body paragraph according to our outline is: the complete cell phone ban should be put in place in our state because reduced distractions would mean fewer accidents, and this would save lives. Our point from the end of our first body paragraph, which argues that lots of drivers are distracted by their cell phones while driving, flows logically right into this next topic sentence.Let’s put together all of the sentences that we’ve come up with for the draft of our first body paragraph:A complete ban on all cell phone use for drivers would reduce distracted driving. Even brief attention paid to a cell phone means that a driver isn’t watching the road. Picking up a cell phone, finding a contact number and placing a call all require a driver’s attention and would prevent him or her from paying close attention to the road. Research has shown that people are not able to pay full attention to more than one thing at a time.

This means that distracted driving is a real danger. One study has shown that many traffic accidents have occurred in the few seconds in which drivers have diverted their attention to their cell phones while driving (Smith 22). Many drivers admit to cell phone use while driving, as well as to the fact that they’ve taken their eyes off the road for up to a few seconds at a time to use their phones.

How to Assess

Now that we’ve drafted our first full body paragraph, let’s check to see if it’s unified, coherent and developed. To see if our paragraph is unified, we need to review our paragraph to determine whether each sentence sticks to the main point. We can confirm that we have a unified paragraph by taking a look at each sentence one-by-one and seeing that each one directly supports our topic sentence.

Next, we can check to see whether our paragraph is coherent. It is, because each sentence leads logically to the next. For example, in our fourth and fifth sentences, we’ve noted that research has shown the dangers of distracted driving. Our sixth sentence then notes that specific research has demonstrated that distraction caused by cell phone use has led to car accidents. This logical progression is easy for the reader to follow.

Finally, we can confirm that our paragraph is well-developed because we’ve provided specific details to support our assertion in our topic sentence. For instance, in our third sentence, we’ve provided specific examples of how a driver’s cell phone use might divert his or her attention from the road.Because our outline for this first body paragraph was thorough, there was very little actual drafting that we had to do at this stage of the writing process. If your outlining method isn’t so detailed, then you’ll need to spend more time crafting your actual sentences at this point. Either way, by taking the time to outline before you draft your paper, and by reviewing how your sentences work together after your draft is completed, you’ll be able to produce a good, solid essay.

Lesson Summary

Remember that each body paragraph in an essay should be unified, coherent and developed. This means that all of your sentences should stick to the main point, your points should flow logically from one to the next and your sentences should provide detailed support for your main point.Use your outline as you draft the sentences in your body paragraphs. Even if you don’t have all the sentences that you need already written in your outline, you can rely on your organizational structure and your main points in your outline to help you craft the sentences that you’ll need.

With each body paragraph, take time to produce an effective topic sentence that expresses the main idea and a good transitional sentence that connects well to the next body paragraph.

Learning Outcomes

After you’ve reviewed this video lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe unified, coherent and developed in terms of drafting a body paragraph
  • Explain how to use your outline to draft your body paragraphs
  • Define topic and transitional sentences

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