Remember when you first learned to ride a bike or drive a car? Your first attempts were rather awkward, weren't they? Those activities are skills; the more you practiced, the more accomplished you became. Right? Writing is also a skill, and practice in writing improves our writing, just as driving a car makes us better drivers. We're going to practice writing a paragraph, but remember, this endeavor must be practiced many times. Let's take the first step now.
- First, choose a topic with which you are familiar. Your choice doesn't have to be complicated; in fact, the topic can be simple as long as you are knowledgeable about the ideas you're presenting. Usually, we know a great deal about our families, our experiences, both positive and negative, and the world around us. For example, some possible topics are a favorite relative, a nosy neighbor, a memorable vacation, or a memorable holiday. Any of these topics require us to recall people and events closest to us.
- Next, brainstorm, or jot down everything you can think of about this topic. Avoid using complete sentences. Instead, just write random thoughts on your topic. Some of your thoughts may be off the subject. You can cross them out later. One source of inspiration in brainstorming is our five senses: smell, taste, feel or touch, hearing, and sight. Try to recall the senses related to your topic. This should help you conjure up some ideas.
- After you finish brainstorming, look over your list of ideas and cross out anything on the list that is not directly relevant to the topic you've chosen. Having several items on your list that are not related to the topic is a natural part of brainstorming. To get all the best ideas, we often have to sort through several concepts that may not be related. This sorting is all part of processing our thoughts.
- After crossing off unrelated statements from your list, study your remaining ideas and select the best three or four for your paragraph and place the numbers 1, 2 or 3 beside each statement. These sentences will be reasons, facts or examples of your main idea.
- Then, put pen to paper as you place your remaining ideas in paragraph form; you should have at least three main supporting details for this paragraph. After each of the three supporting details gleaned from your brainstorming, write two or three sentences that explain those supporting details.
- A last step is to compose a general statement that summarizes the supporting details in one sentence. This sentence is your topic sentence and should be placed as the first sentence of the paragraph. The topic sentence does not contain supporting details; it is an umbrella statement that covers what the supporting details are discussing.
- After finalizing your paragraph, enlist an honest friend to read your paragraph and suggest any possible improvements. Revise as needed.
- Finally, put away your writing for a couple of days and return later. You may see points missed earlier. If needed, revise again.
You're on your way now. Whenever possible, get feedback from other writers or teachers, and don't forget that first time you drove a car or rode a bicycle. Those skills required practice and so does writing. Time and practice always bring improvement.