Well Constructed Paragraphs Are The Foundation For Clear Writing.

Paragraphs allow the reader to take a breath while continuing to read.  Without them a reader would face the daunting task of having to read and decide simultaneously when there is a change of thought or subject.

Clear writing flows directly from well composed paragraphing. The effectiveness of any writing will depend directly on how well you have constructed the paragraphs.  As further explained below, all paragraphs should be unified in thought, well organized, and coherent.

Paragraphs may be long or short.  Moderation and common sense are keys.  If a paragraph is too short the reader may conclude the writer has given little thought to the writing.  If it’s too long the reader may simply get discouraged.

There are different types of writing usable for different purposes, including persuasive, expository, narrative, creative, descriptive, research, and (book) reporting.  Paragraphing does not of necessity completely follow the type of writing you are using, but may vary within the main body of the document being written, depending on the context.

Two main groups of paragraphs exist, narrative and descriptive.  Other paragraph forms may have different identifying labels placed on them, such as chronologic, compare and contrast, definition, and others, but it is simpler to place them in one of the two main categories.

For example, a chronologic or progressive paragraph is so-called because of its orderly progression from one point to another, often following a time sequence.  But it’s still descriptive or narrative in nature. Describing a fishing technique or a golf swing are good examples of the use of such a paragraph.

A recipe, which is by its nature descriptive, is another good example.  The late Vincent Price was a well known screen actor, starring in House of Wax and other films of that genre. But he was also an accomplished chef.  His cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes, by Mary and Vincent Price, first published circa 1965, contains many delectable recipes.  It’s likely out of print now.  Although this blogsite is not intended to be a cookbook, as an example of descriptive paragraphing, the next post will contain one of my favorite Vincent Price recipes – chicken tetrazzini.

Persuasive writing is typically employed by a trial lawyer to advocate a position.  An argument in favor of class actions is shown in the following, albeit abbreviated, example:

Class actions are disfavored by many people because they believe that the lawyers get most of the money and individual class members get little, if any.  The problem with that argument is that the lawyer who brings the case takes a lot of risk.  He/she may have to work for years without pay and must usually spend a substantial amount of money up front on investigative costs and expert witness fees. Failure to get a court order certifying the putative class as a genuine class is generally regarded as the “death knell” for the case.  The lawyer may wind up with nothing if the class is not certified or the case is lost after trial.

On the other hand a successful class action will usually result in a court order and resulting judgment correcting questionable company practices such as putting a dangerous or unhealthy product on the market, or illegally manipulating the price of a stock.  An individual, upon notification of the pending class action, has the right to opt out of the class and pursue the target defendant individually.  Class actions are often settled.  A settlement usually creates a class fund, approved by the court, used to compensate individual class members for damages suffered, and to pay attorneys fees. Under these circumstances the lawyer earns his/her pay.

Copyright 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.


Filed under clear writing

2 responses to “Well Constructed Paragraphs Are The Foundation For Clear Writing.

  1. and, possibly, the last paragraph to your blog that ties all of this together and doesn’t make me feel I’ve shifted gears to a legal-blog, would be helpful? Overall, thanks! Great read!

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