The Effective Paragraph
Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the most difficult skills to teach (and to learn) is how to write well. It's really not a quick thing to master or even to be good at doing. Here's why: it's a complex skill that requires years of correct practice; there are rules, requirements, and strategies. It's like playing a sport (or an instrument) in that sense. The most basic part of writing is a sentence, and there are several kinds of those with all sorts of word order possibilities. Beyond the sentence, though, there is the paragraph. Let's first work on learning how to write a really good paragraph; then, we will work on refining sentences.
What kind of paragraph should we write?
Should it be in first person or third?
Let's begin with first person, which uses the personal
pronoun "I" so that we can tell a story
from our own experiences.
Here's the writing prompt:
Write one paragraph about your favorite hobby or pastime.
It's a good idea to write first a topic or starter sentence and then brainstorm an outline that will help you generate several sentences.
I'll begin . . .
One of my favorite things to do is to work with horses . . .
TS: One of my favorite things to do is to work with horses . . .
A. Long-term goal - Unfulfilled
B. Learning to Ride - Challenging
C. Physically Demanding & Requires Discipline
D. Relationship with Truly Large Animal
E. Riding Makes Me Happy
F. Can and Do Share with Spouse
G. Allowed Me to Rope Cattle
H. Lasting Friendships
Each one of the points can become one or two sentences. Each point, in other words, provides something specific to discuss, and we can tell by looking carefully at each point if it makes sense with regard to the topic sentence.
One of my favorite things to do is to work with horses, and at age forty-five I finally got the chance to make that happen.
Do you see how the above sentence results from Point A? Let's write effective sentences that support Points B and C.
Early-on, I was uncomfortable in the saddle and more than a little scared. I also realized that working with horses was physically demanding: from placing my ninety-pound saddle on the back of my 16.5 hands tall horse to cleaning hooves to loading and unloading hay to hooking up the horse trailer to my F150 to working with Samurai Jack or Buck Rogers in the round pen.
Now, let's write sentences that flow from the outline.
One of my favorite things to do is to work with horses, and at age forty-five I finally got the chance to make that happen. Early-on, I was awkward in the saddle and fearful for my safety. I also realized that working with horses was physically demanding: from placing my ninety-pound saddle on the back of my 16.5 hands tall horse to cleaning hooves to loading and unloading hay to hooking up the horse trailer to my F150 to working with Samurai Jack or Buck Rogers in the round pen. I also had to be disciplined about feeding and watering my horses, four of them, twice a day, seven days a week, regardless of weather conditions. My horses do not speak English, so I had to get to know them in a non-verbal way, and in so doing developed a positive, effective relationship with them. I found that when I went on trail rides, even if it was just around (and in) Lake Kirby, that I felt much better about all things in my life. I became, for instance, relaxed and happy; stress and angst evaporated. Later, when I married Kim, we shared trail riding together, and we both felt the same kind of peace and enjoyment, even though she sometimes liked to race at full gallop, especially when I was chilled-out and unsuspecting (and she still does). While still a rookie, I made friends with a professional diesel mechanic named Frank. He invited me to learn to rope cattle, as he, himself, had just begun to become a heeler. Like me, he was also fairly new to working with horses, which made being friends even easier. I became a serious roper, as did he, and that created a whole new set of interesting, exciting experiences for us both that I will never forget. Ultimately, I found working with horses to be one of the best decisions of my life and highly recommend it!
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Public - 7/11/16, 1:21 AM