Split it up, Break it Down: Paragraphing Strategies for College Essays

Some of us fill a page with a mass of words, with no section spaces, no changes, and no obviously characterized subject sentences. A few of us have the suitable spaces, yet inside each passage our sentences are faulty. Francis Christensen [1] contrived a splendid stunt for paragraphing, one you can use at (and not previously) the reexamining stage:

First, how about we envision we are making two or three “plots” for passages about spots on the planet. [2] Fill in the spaces for the two passages underneath, by imagining each word or expression is a sentence, with the principal word (1) the point sentence:


…..(2) COUNTRY___USA______ (2) COUNTRY____________

……..(3) CITY___San Francisco__ (3) CITY_____________

……….(4) STREET__Haight______ (4) STREET___________

………….(5) BUSINESS_Amoeba Music_ (5) BUSINESS______

For this section, we can perceive how every passage (sentence) alludes back to (1), but on the other hand is an increasingly explicit reference to the spot straightforwardly before it. So the succession is tight/orderly.

But imagine a scenario in which we attempted to put another (2) next in this arrangement, after the (5. Would acquiring another nation in the city, in the city, and at the business there work intelligently for our peruser? Or on the other hand would it toss our reader?

It would toss our reader.

So we have to begin another passage, another (1), an ALSO/BESIDES/IN ADDITION…. For, this section is of the sort Christensen calls the SUBORDINATE PARAGRAPH, and it must have a request and sub request of 1, 2, 3, 4, …. It can’t have 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, and it can’t have a 1, 5, 2, 3, 4 order.

***** SUBORDINATE sections are useful for recounting stories, indicating a procedure (or how-to) request, or moving from general to explicit depictions. They are one of three kinds of sections in the composing world.*****

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This brings us, at that point, to the following sort of paragraphing. Fill in every one of the spaces beneath with a phrase:

(1) What is truth?

(2) Truth is_____________________________________.

(2) It is________________________________________.

(2) It is________________________________________.

For this sort of passage, called a COORDINATE PARAGRAPH, each sentence that follows the theme sentence- – the (1)- – helps out the others to characterize and rethink a term or terms. When you complete your own announcements characterizing truth, note how melodic, lovely, or even (coordinating) the section is a result of the powerful repetition.

***** COORDINATE passages are useful for- – as you likely speculated – definitions, fortifying importance in a conveyed point, and re-characterizing a topic.*****

This carries us to the remainder of the paragraphing types, called the MIXED PARAGRAPH. This incorporates all other sensible and strengthening passages that contain a blend of the SUBORDINATE and the COORDINATE, while it despite everything maintains control. That is, for instance, it tends to be a 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, design, yet ought not have another 1 tossed in or a strangely put sentence like another 2 after the 3, 3, 3, part.

To explain and to give the numbering a shot previously composed passages (in the event that, for instance, you draft first and afterward check request second), we should take a gander at the accompanying. Attempt to disentangle the numbering design in each:


___I am careful that lone yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our youngsters, shouting out for fellowship, were replied with fire hoses, growling hounds and even demise. ___I am careful that lone yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, youngsters looking to tie down the option to cast a ballot were brutalized and killed; and just yesterday more than 40 places of love in the State of Mississippi alone were besieged or consumed in light of the fact that they offered a haven to the individuals who might not acknowledge isolation. ___I am careful that weakening and crushing neediness besets my kin and chains them to the most minimal crosspiece of the financial stepping stool.

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– – from Dr. Martin Luther King’s Nobel

Prize acknowledgment discourse, Dec. 10, 1964 [3]

The above is an example of a _____________________paragraph.


___There’s nothing so dangerous as a spoof film. ___Some of them turn out superbly, and models like “Blasting Saddles” and “Plane!” are two of the most interesting films at any point made. ___On the other hand, now and then you get models like “Secondary School High,” the new film featuring Jon Lovitz and Tia Carrere. ___It should be a parody of the “Risky Minds” kind of film, where an educator comes into a downtown secondary school and makes a huge difference around. ___Lovitz plays an instructor named Richard Clark – get it, Dick Clark? – who leaves his place of employment at an elegant tuition based school and takes a situation even under the least favorable conditions open secondary school in the locale, Marion Berry High. ___He meets the excellent clerical specialist, played via Carrere, and the obstinate head, played by Louise Fletcher. ___Yes, previous Oscar-victor Louise Fletcher. Would you be able to state, “terrible misuse of ability”? I knew you could….

– – from Alex Lau’s Movie Magazine International survey,

October, 1996

The above is an example of a _____________________paragraph.


___Technically, Carlito’s Way is a mix of the creative and the commonplace. ___The camerawork is fortifying, if now and then excessively extraordinary. ___DePalma utilizes the steadicam during the pursuit arrangements, and this increases whatever strain is available. ___Jellybean Benitez, a previous DJ and club administrator, is the music chief, and his decision of around twelve mid-seventies hits assists with building up the time span. ___Patrick Doyle’s score, nonetheless, is awfully out-of-place…. – from James Berardinelli’s Colossus audit, 1993

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The above is an example of a _____________________paragraph.


___Describing Tupac…. ___Shit, he was genuine. ___I’ma be genuine for a moment, since I can’t depict somebody so genuine without being genuine myself: [Tupac] was everything and nothing. ___He was dreamful, cheerful, a pioneer, a radical, a hooligan, a companion, a good example. ___Just all that he did was, as Tupac once stated, “a determined advance to carry me closer to my demise.” ___He was the hip jump Jesus.

– – from Luis Camacho’s diary section, June 16, 2004

The above is an example of a _____________________paragraph.

What sort of passage do you discover An is? On the off chance that you consider it to be a COORDINATE, you are totally right!

How about B? That’s right, an (elegantly composed) SUBORDINATE.

My understudies are separated on C, with general agreement considering it to be either a COORDINATE, with each sentence after the first fortifying the author’s theme sentence or as a MIXED, with the last sentence (a 3)- – or…possible another 1?

And passage D? It would appear that a rich MIX of subtleties, isn’t that right? Also, the essayist of D hadn’t yet done this paragraphing experiment!

End Notes

[1] Christensen, Francis. A Generative Rhetoric of the Paragraph. CCC 16 (October 1965).

[2] This piece of the examination is a changed form of that utilized in Graduate Composition Teaching courses instructed by Deborah Swanson at SFSU.

[3] All passage tests taken from and additionally altered for English 880, Skyline College, San Bruno, CA. Entry D is a chosen piece composed by an understudy who has allowed his authorization for my utilization of it here and somewhere else. RM.

Roxanne McDonald

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