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Paragraphs, organization and outlines it explains it all with examples.
Revising Paragraphs & Organization

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By: Holly Abidi

         Before you have completed a piece of writing a writer often begins by working through a planning stage. In this stage you will work on figuring out what you will be writing about and how you will put your entire work together. This stage is important so that your final work will make sense and be well organized. Planning and organization work hand in hand, they are the groundwork to good wring.

Organize Your Work With Outlines

         To begin some writers prefer to create a formal outline and others don’t. However, keep in mind an outline can be very individualized and there are different styles. So authors tend to create their own outlines as they see fit. Nevertheless, you can see below two different types of outlines an author could choose to use in example #1 and example #2.

Example #1: The General Outline

Topic: The Nightmare In Spooksville


· John : A priest or sometimes called “John the healer”
· Henry: A young teenager
· Mrs. Jinkins: A teacher at Staffert High School

Setting: In a small town called Spooksville


         Henry lives in Spooksville with his family and he goes to school at Staffert high. However, not everything is normal because lately his teacher Mrs. Jinkins is acting very strange. Henry seeks out an old priest called “John the healer” and asks for his help in figuring out what is going on.


         Mrs. Jinkins begins to act strangely and Henry her student doesn’t notice. That is until certain students in her class start to go missing. Then Henry notices and he believes that somehow Mrs. Jinkins is responsible. However, when Henry becomes interested in solving the mystery Mrs. Jinkins warns him to stay way.


         Mrs. Jinkins turns out to be a crazed killer that preys on young teenagers but she is caught and thrown in jail.

Example #1: This type of outline points out the basic structure and elements of a work, in this case a novel or short story. This type of outline relies on the type of writing in order to determine what will be listed or noted down. This is a very loose type of guide for the author. Its purpose is to keep the ideas fresh in the authors mind, so as needed he or she can refer back to or add to it.

Example #2: The Formal Outline

Essay Title: What is This Thing We Call Love?

· Please note that large letters A., B., C., etc are main points or proofs. The small letters such as a), b) or c) will support the main point above it, which will be a larger letter.

Thesis Statement:

Everyday people fall in love, love is all around us but how do you know if you’re in love? Is there such a thing as love at first sight?

· This proves a point and tells the reader what questions will be asked. This is very specific as with the information below, which will most likely form the first paragraph of the essay.

I: Introduction/ Background Information:

A. What is love?

· This is the main point that will be addressed in the introduction or it can sometimes be background information as in this case we are defining what love is. The small letter a) is what proves or provides a reason for point A.

a) Love is between two people that are compatible and care very deeply about each other.

B. What people believe love is?

a) Some people believe in love at first sight, they believe that you can just fall in love and that it is just meant to be.

II. Main Point #1:

A. What’s true love?

a) True love isn’t fleeting in fact once two people find true love they can’t escape their feelings.

b) True love is magic being that it is so strong.

c) True love is developed when two people are soul mates, maybe you can call it fate.

B. Does true love last?

III. Main Point #2:

A. Does everybody fall in love?

IV. Main Point #3:

A. Is there such a thing as happy endings?

V. Conclusion:

· This is where the author sums up the thesis sentence, but not in the same words, and concludes their writing. This outline should contain the roman numerals to list points and it should be listed in much the same order except there could be more points and reasons depending on the detail but that is up to the author.

Example #2: This example is a formal outline for an essay. It covers all of the structure and main points the writing will include. It offers a strong guidance and structure as to how the writer will begin putting his or hers writing together, where what will go, and how it will conclude. It can have more detail or be quite general depending on the author preference or the type of work it pertains to.

         Writing is entirely up to the author and some authors prefer to work without any type of outline. Instead, they rather begin by freewriting and putting all their ideas down and then working with organizing them as they please. Nevertheless, whether an author uses an outline or doesn’t every writer must have the answers to a few basic questions before he or she begins. There are at least six basic questions a writer will think about prior to writing and they are as follows:

1. What is my topic?
2. What do I think about this topic?
3. What am I trying to prove or point out?
4. What are my main points?
5. What will I need to know to write on this topic?
6. Do I need to do some research?

What an Outline Should Cover

         An outline should cover the basic components of your work and characters. The more developed your outline and characters are the easier it is to fill out your novel and to do so accurately. Always do the following three things with your drafts:

1. Examine what you have written and your facts.
2. Look at your ideas and whether or not they fit with your topic.
3. Analyze how logical the details are by checking to see if the facts and information make sense.

         Use your outline as a guide. If it is a guide it should be able to guide you, like for instance, if you have many different characters your outline might focus on that. Since there are no rules as to what an outline should contain I recommend it covers what you feel is important and the basic structure of your work. Keep in mind you should always be going back and adding to your outline. As a guide you will use it to back up your writing and so you will change it as you go along. That is the beauty of an outline it isn’t set in stone.

Examining Paragraphs In Your Writing

         After you have completed your rough draft you end up working through your entire piece of writing, revising, and editing. Most writers begin by reading through their work, picking out spelling errors and basic construction problems. Then they worry about looking through their work for organization.

         However, once you have a draft that is readable and relatively error free it is a good idea to then focus only on organization. This relates back to the first step, if you have spent a lot of time planning then your organization might not need a lot of fine tuning. Nevertheless, during this step you can always start by revising your paragraphs separately. Start by looking for structure and how well each paragraph is organized. Ask yourself the following six questions to help you pick out problems in your paragraphs:

1. What is the topic sentence?
2. What are the main points?
3. Does it make sense?
4. Is there more than one idea in this paragraph?
5. Does it tie into the rest of the writing?
6. Is it organized, engaging, and does it flow nicely?

         Most of the time if you read through your work your paragraphs will sound fine. Nevertheless, if you examine each paragraph separately you will be able to tighten up your work and get rid of many useless words, fragments, and other common errors. Look at how well each paragraph sounds and whether or not it ties into the previous or the following paragraphs. This relates to organization because you might find out that your paragraphs will make better sense if you re-arrange them. So don’t be shy keep playing with your writing. Chances are the more you play with your draft the more you will fix parts, organize, and make it better. And of course the ultimate goal in writing is to make it better.
© Copyright 2005 Holly Abidi (cougarcat at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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