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 theme sentences. A few of us have the fitting spaces, yet inside each section our sentences are faulty. Francis Christensen [1] conceived a splendid stunt for paragraphing, one you can use at (and not previously) the reconsidering stage:

First, we should envision we are making several “traces” for sections about spots on the planet. [2] Fill in the spaces for the two sections underneath, by imagining each word or expression is a sentence, with the primary word (1) the subject 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 passage, we can perceive how every passage (sentence) alludes back to (1), but at the same time is an increasingly explicit reference to the spot legitimately before it. So the grouping is tight/orderly.

But imagine a scenario in which we attempted to put another (2) next in this arrangement, after the (5. Would getting 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 section, another (1), an ALSO/BESIDES/IN ADDITION…. For, this passage 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 passages are useful for recounting stories, demonstrating a procedure (or how-to) request, or moving from general to explicit depictions. They are one of three sorts of passages in the composing world.*****

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This brings us, at that point, to the following kind of paragraphing. Fill in every one of the spaces underneath 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 point 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, wonderful, or balanced (coordinating) the passage is a direct result of the viable repetition.

***** COORDINATE sections are useful for- – as you likely speculated – definitions, strengthening 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 coherent and fortifying passages that contain a blend of the SUBORDINATE and the COORDINATE, while it despite everything maintains control. That is, for instance, it very well may be a 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, design, yet ought not have another 1 tossed in or a strangely set sentence like another 2 after the 3, 3, 3, part.

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


___I am careful that lone yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our kids, shouting out for fraternity, were replied with fire hoses, growling hounds and even passing. ___I am careful that lone yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, youngsters trying 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 bombarded or consumed in light of the fact that they offered an asylum to the individuals who might not acknowledge isolation. ___I am careful that incapacitating and crushing destitution torments my kin and chains them to the most reduced bar of the monetary 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 unsafe as a satire film. ___Some of them turn out magnificently, and models like “Bursting Saddles” and “Plane!” are two of the most amusing motion pictures at any point made. ___On the other hand, in some cases 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” sort of film, where an instructor 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 a rich tuition based school and takes a situation best case scenario open secondary school in the region, Marion Berry High. ___He meets the lovely clerical specialist, played via Carrere, and the harsh head, played by Louise Fletcher. ___Yes, previous Oscar-victor Louise Fletcher. Would you be able to state, “heartbreaking 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 imaginative and the hackneyed. ___The camerawork is fortifying, if now and then excessively extraordinary. ___DePalma utilizes the steadicam during the pursuit successions, and this elevates whatever strain is available. ___Jellybean Benitez, a previous DJ and club chief, is the music manager, and his decision of around twelve mid-seventies hits assists with building up the time period. ___Patrick Doyle’s score, in any case, is appallingly 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 portray somebody so genuine without being genuine myself: [Tupac] was everything and nothing. ___He was dreamful, confident, a pioneer, a revolutionary, 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 bounce Jesus.

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

The above is an example of a _____________________paragraph.

What sort of section do you discover An is? In the event that you consider it to be a COORDINATE, you are completely right!

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

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

And section D? It would appear that a rich MIX of subtleties, isn’t that right? Also, the author 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 an altered adaptation of that utilized in Graduate Composition Teaching courses educated by Deborah Swanson at SFSU.

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

Roxanne McDonald

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