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2.3: Body Paragraphs

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource discusses developing ideas and providing details for the body paragraphs of your essay.

Writing Developed and Detailed Body Paragraphs

In Lesson 2, we said that your three body paragraphs support the main idea of your essay. In each body paragraph, you also have a main idea that needs to be supported. The development and details you provide in each body paragraph support each paragraph’s main idea.

In Lesson 2, we also talked about the importance of having a clear topic sentence for each of your body paragraphs. The topic sentence, which is typically near the beginning of your paragraph, serves as the thesis statement for the paragraph. Aside from a clear topic sentence, what else can you put in each body paragraph? The answer: sentences that provide supporting details for your paragraph’s main idea.

The diagram below illustrates the relationship between your essay’s main idea and thesis statement, your paragraphs’ main ideas and topic sentences, and the supporting details you provide in each paragraph.
This image shows how developing paragraphs sit beneath and support an essay's maid idea.
Consider the three example topic sentences from Lesson 2. These three topic sentences represent the three subpoints our example writer has chosen to support her main idea of “getting a better job.”

Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 1: The first step I will take to getting a better job is to finish school.

Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 2: Next, I will work toward getting a better job by preparing a resume.

Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 3: The final step I plan to take to get a better job is to search for jobs.

For each subpoint, what are some details that would add development and support? Some ideas are listed below.

Main Idea of Body Paragraph Supporting Details
Finish School getting a course list from the community college; figuring out what classes I want to take; meeting with an advisor; signing up for classes
Preparing a Resume listing my skills and experience, finding sample resumes, drafting a resume, getting someone to look at it
Searching for Jobs going to the community job center; looking online for jobs I’m qualified for; talking to friends and advisors about opportunities; making a list of possible job leads

The paragraph below is an example body paragraph about finishing school.

"The first step I will take to getting a better job is to finish school. I can get a course catalogue from the community college and study it to see what classes sound interesting. After I think about what sounds interesting and would be helpful to me, I can decide which ones I want to take. Then, I can meet with an academic advisor to get advice about what courses I would need to get my degree. After I figure out what classes to take and get advice from an advisor, I can sign up for the classes I need and want to take."

Your turn! Write down a few details that develop and support each of the three subpoints you chose in Lesson 2. Next, practice writing a body paragraph. Begin with one of the topic sentences that you drafted in Lesson 2 and write a few sentences that reflect the supporting details you’ve brainstormed for that subpoint.

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