Exercise:  Writing good paragraphs

I.  The following sentences might constitute a paragraph, but not a very good one in their present form.  Rewrite the paragraph to give it a better focus and coherence.  Write an appropriate topic sentence, rearrange sentences where it seems necessary, delete sentences that do not seem relevant to the purpose of the paragraph, and add connecting words or phrases or use other devices (as discussed in 6c of the Handbook) to improve the fluency of the passage.  Imagine the sentences are written by a student seeking an excused absence from class from his instructor.
 

I have head and chest congestion.  My throat hurts.  The doctor says I'm contagious and must not be in contact with other people.  I'm so dehydrated she seriously considered putting me in the hospital and giving me an i.v. to replenish my fluids.  It's going around.  My roommate has it, too.  I get dizzy when I stand.  My body aches.  I am groggy from my medication.  Are we doing anything important today?  I am coughing and sneezing all the time.

Sample Rewrite 1:
Today my throat really hurts and my head and chest are congested.  My doctor says I'm contagious and should not be in contact with other people.  I am very dehydrated and my doctor seriously considered putting me in the hospital to give me I.V. to help replenish my fluids.  I am groggy from my medication, my body aches and I get dizzy when I stand.  Therefore, I would like to be excused from class due to my sickness.  Thank you.

Sample Rewrite 2:
I went to my doctor today.  I'm so dehydrated she seriously considered putting me in the hospital and give me an i.v. to replenish my fluids.  She says I'm contagious and must not be in contact with other people but my roommate already has it, too.  I get dizzy when I stand and my body aches.  I am coughing and sneezing all the time and my medication make me groggy.  Also my head and chest are congested, and my throat hurts.

Sample Rewrite 3:
Are we going to do anything important in class today?  I will not be in class because I have head and chest congestion and my throat hurts.  I am dehydrated and I constantly cough and sneeze.  I get dizzy when I stand, my body aches, and I am groggy from my medication.  The doctor says I am contagious, and must not [come] in contact with other people.

Sample Rewrite 3:
I have head and chest congestion, my throat is also hurting.  The doctor says that I'm contagious and must not be in contact with other people.  I'm so dehydrated that she seriously considered putting me in the hospital and giving me an i.v. to replenish my fluids.  I get dizzy when I stand, my body aches, and I am groggy from my medication.  I have been coughing and sneezing frequently.  I would like to know if it is important that [I] come to class today.
 

II.  The one thing the paragraph probably did contain in its original form was enough detail to be convincing.  Write a less developed and less convincing version of the paragraph below.  Then consider what you have left out?
 
 
 
 
 
 

III.  Now turn back to Steve Duran's essay "The Space Between Your Ears" on pages 206-10.  Carefully re-read paragraph 5 of the essay, then answer the following questions.

1.  What is the topic sentence of the paragraph?  Where is it placed?  And what transitional device has Duran used within the sentence?
 
 
 

2.  What ordering technique(s) has Duran used in the paragraph?  Progressive, Chronological, Spatial, some other?
 
 

3.  What techniques has Duran used to make the paragraph cohesive?  repetition? transitional words and phrases?  parallelism? pronouns? or some other?  Review pages 54-55 in Longwood or 6c-e in the Handbook if you need to.