A paragraph usually consists of several sentences unified under one controlling thought called the topic sentence.  Like an essay's thesis, the theme that controls the scope and direction of a paper, the topic sentence keeps the paragraph focused in one direction.  Additionally, the topic sentence of a paragraph must be directly linked in theme to the thesis of the essay.  Paragraphs support the thesis, providing the necessary details that reinforce the main idea expressed in a given essay.  Finally a paragraph represents one of the main points expressed in an essay.  It is discrete, remaining focused on one idea throughout the paragraph; it does not attempt to cover too much.  In other words, a paragraph stays focused on one idea only.  Keep in mind the old adage for paragraphing:


If you can keep these thoughts in mind as you construct paragraphs, you should have no problems creating focused, well structured paragraphs.


Classic SEIAS Paragraph Structure

Another way of thinking about paragraphs is to follow the SEIS paragraph model.  Like the idea that ONE PARAGRAPH=ONE IDEA, the SEIS paragraph model is unified under a controlling Statement; it is developed by sentences known as Elaboration; it is given specific support with Illustration; Analysis comments directly on the specific support, linking it back to the controlling Statement; finally, it is summed up by a transitional or Summary statement.  The following is an example of an SEIS paragraph, from Robert Brustein's "Reflections on Horror Movies."  

S=The Interplanetary Monster series sometimes reverses the central situation of most horror films. 

E=We often find the monster controlling the scientist and forcing him to do its evil will. 

I=In It Conquered the World (the first film to capitalize on Sputnik and Explorer), the projection of a space satellite proves to be a mistake, for it results in the invasion of America by a monster from Venus. 

I=It takes  control of the scientist who, embittered by the indifference of the masses toward his ideas, mistakenly thinks the monster will free men from stupidity. 

I=This muddled egghead finally discovers the true intentions of the monster and destroys it, dying himself in the process. 

I=In The Brain from Planet Arous, a hideous brain inhabits the mind of a nuclear physicist with the intention of controlling the universe. 

A=As the physical incarnation of the monster, the scientist is at the mercy of its will until he can free himself of its influence. 

S=The monster's intellect is invariably superior, signified by its large head and small body (in the last film named it is nothing but brain); its superior intelligence is always accompanied by moral depravity and an unconscionable lust for power.


Remembering these rules of paragraphing will lead you to develop successful structure in your essays.  


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