Nerdify Reviews 6 Tips for Segmenting Each Paragraph of an Essay to Make Writing a Breeze

You’ve just received your assignment sheet and look down at the requirements, gulping as you read the 1,000+ word minimum. While it’s easy to flounder wondering how to conjure up that much fluff, it becomes effortless to build a full-fledged piece if you break the essay down to sentence types first. Sure, your teachers and professors growing up have likely drilled the basics of a five-paragraph paper into your head, but there are structures even within each paragraph that make writing an essay as simple as filling in the blanks.

1. Don’t Let the Word Count Psych You Out by Dividing up the Number Between Sections

Seeing numbers in the thousands can fill students with everything from annoyance to dread, but divvying up the words per paragraph makes a molehill out of a mountain. Break the count down this way — assume that you’ll write about 200 words for each paragraph. If your essay requires 1,000 words, that means you’ll only have to craft ~5 paragraphs total. With the introduction and conclusion paragraphs automatically accounted for, you’ll just need three body paragraphs sandwiched between them. The same goes for papers with higher counts — 2,000 words means ~8 body paragraphs, 3,000 words into ~12 body paragraphs, and so on.

2. Sorry, but You’re Gonna Need to Write an Outline

Though you might have cringed at the suggestion, crafting an outline will actually mean less writing for you in the end. Without a predetermined structure, you’ll waste time writing words until you find your framework — creating a headache-induing amount of cuts and edits later. Your thesis statement is all you need for the introductory paragraph portion of your outline. Then, write the first sentence of your supporting body paragraphs. Within those, paste 2–3 relevant quotes from primary and/or secondary sources — no need to go overboard and create an entire annotated bibliography for each reference. Now, for the conclusion, restate your thesis and key evidence, and maybe throw in a quote that encapsulates the theme of your essay.

3. Forget Writing the Intro First and Start with the Body Paragraphs Instead

While the intro’s thesis statement is the foundation of your essay, the rest of the paragraph is often daunting and better left last when the rest of the paper is established. Just like how each body paragraph is evidence proving your thesis statement, treat each individual body paragraph as its own argument that you need to verify. The first sentence acts both as evidence supporting the thesis and sets up the paragraph’s argument. The rest of the section should contain supporting evidence (i.e., quotes) to prove the first sentence’s argument to be valid. Once you’ve concluded confirming the claim’s veracity, you just need a sentence transitioning into the next paragraph’s content.

4. Be Sure to Properly Integrate your Quotes

Supporting quotes are crucial for establishing legitimacy to your claims, but placing them poorly will make for a disjointed paragraph. Much like there are steps within each body paragraph — the argument, evidence, conclusion, and transition — there are steps to integrating a quote. Firstly, you must establish the author of the passage — if it’s the aforementioned primary source, just the author’s last name will suffice. However, if it is a literary critic, introduce them as such, followed by their name. Next, present the quote itself — either by summarizing the point or directly using the author’s words, followed by a page number. The subsequent two steps are often ignored but crucial. Summarize the context and meaning of the quote within the source, then explain how this quote relates back to the argument of this paragraph.

5. In your Conclusion, Remind your Reader of the Academic Journey You Took Them on

No shade to your writing, but if you have a huge essay, your reader might have forgotten some of your paper by the time they reach the end. Consider your conclusion paragraph as going from specific to broad in scope, beginning with restating your argument and its key evidence. Afterward, get more general but not too out-there — not like “we live in a society” — and instead relate your thesis to larger themes in the piece, or how it fits into a genre, literary movement, time period, etc.

6. The Introductory Paragraph Should Familiarize Your Reader with both Your Argument and The Primary Source Itself

Unlike the conclusion paragraph, your intro should start more broadly in subject matter and then narrow into your thesis. Though your first sentence should hook the reader in, don’t make a broad sweeping claim here either, but something specific to your essay. Perhaps you define an obscure word relevant to your essay, open with a quote from a secondary source, give a fun fact, state a question — anything but akin to “yeah, but we really do live in a society.” Treat the rest of the paragraph as, no surprise, an introduction to the story itself. You should not assume that you have a knowledgeable audience who has read the primary source you’re referencing, so it is crucial to briefly summarize the primary source’s key beats and plot points. You’ve already got the last sentence of the paragraph squared away — your thesis.

Congrats — you’ve written an essay as easily as a mad lib!



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