Country Report (Pro)


Types of Paragraphs (Review)

Before you actually start writing your paper, let's review the basic paragraph patterns.

Narrative Paragraphs

A narrative paragraph tells a story in chronological order. Here is an example:


Joe opened the door and stepped quietly into her bedroom, pausing for a moment to let his eyes adjust to the darkness. On the bed, Christine appeared to be sleeping soundly. He glided past her, opened the top drawer of her dresser, and felt with his hands for the necklace.


The organizing principle of a narrative paragraph is chronological order. In other words, first things first, second things second. The reader has an easy time following it because she knows that the next sentence will tell her what happens next.

Topic Sentence Paragraphs

In contrast, a topic sentence paragraph begins with a topic sentence, and every other sentence in the paragraph provides "evidence" that the topic sentence is true.

Here is an example:


It was a beautiful spring day. The birds were chirping, and butterflies flitted through the air. Clouds drifted lazily across the sky. A bunny rabbit hopped among the wildflowers.


This paragraph makes sense because every sentence (after the first) provides evidence that the first sentence is true. (It was, indeed, “a beautiful spring day”). This organizing principle makes the paragraph easy to read; it is coherent; the reader does not have to make mental leaps from one topic to another.

In other words, it might seem, at first glance, that birds and bunny rabbits don't have much in common, but, in fact, they are related, because both these things are related to beautiful spring days.

What kind of paragraph should you use?

Academic papers, like fiction, use a mix of different paragraph patterns. Narrative paragraphs may be good for providing the background on a topic, while topic sentence paragraphs are often better suited for making a series of arguments.

That said, your three body paragraphs will almost certainly be topic sentence paragraphs. In fact, you will be writing a special kind of topic sentence paragraph—a paragraph I call "The Sandwich".

"The Sandwich" is the topic of the next lesson.