Writer's Secrets: How to Write Paragraphs Oozing with Appeal

Paragraphs are like the building blocks of any written work. Without it, an essay or a story would just be a long, long and long wall of text. Imagine this: you were assigned a reading homework and you need to summarize the important parts of it. When you open the book, all you see are never ending sentences with no space in between. Gives you a headache eh? That's the beauty of paragraphs, it gives you a breather and it doesn't make your book look like you need to highlight the whole page.

More than just its length, paragraphs should make sense. It's not just gathering one-liner spouted by random people you meet on the street. It should make sense. Emphasis on the word "sense" because a lot of students think that any group of three to four sentences are already good paragraphs.

The Structure of a Paragraph
The structure of a paragraph is much like a grocery store. There are a place and a shelf for every item. Common items are placed together. Would it make sense to put toothpaste and bread side by side? Similarly, a paragraph should not only consist of random sentences grouped together. It needs to have unity, coherence, and emphasis.

Unity – from the word unite means oneness. In a paragraph, unity means having one main thought all throughout. You can't be talking about coffee in one sentence and then shifting gears towards cars the next minute unless the two topics are related.

Coherence - means that the ideas of a sentence should transition in an order. There are ways of achieving coherence in a paragraph. One way is by ordering ideas in a numerical sequence.

Emphasis – is emphasizing a point in your paragraph. You can have a coherent and unified paragraph but it's also useless without any emphasis. What point are you stressing about in your paragraph

Enhancing Paragraphs
Now that you have an idea of a paragraph structure, it's time to move on to the good stuff. Paragraphs are the backbone of a story. It needs to be interesting and compelling. It should be one where a reader will go back to read that paragraph over and over again because he/she found that particular group of words so fun to read.

Use the Active Voice - You've heard it before, you'll hear it again and again from the experienced writers that using the active voice is better than using a passive voice. Signs of overly using the passive voice is the presence of the words "was" and "were."

In an active voice, the subject of the sentence does an action to an object whereas in the passive voice, the role is reversed and the direct object becomes the subject. While nothing is wrong with the passive voice, an active voice makes it easier for readers to understand what it is you want them to know.

Passive vs Active Voice - The students were told by the teacher that they needed to have their grade cards signed by their parents, but an exception was made for Tom.

The teacher told the students that they needed their parents to sign their grade cards but she made an exception for Tom.

The active voice is short and concise making it understandable to readers what you want to say.

Use Simple Words - Expanding your reader's vocabulary is great once in a while but you don't have to discombobulate your readers with overly pulchritudinous words. This won't make your readers ebullient.

If the words puzzled you, discombobulate means confusing, pulchritudinous, despite it sounding and looking like it's a name for an ugly disease means beautiful and ebullient means happy. See how painful that was to read?

It doesn't make you sound intelligent and will only cause your readers to lose interest in your writing. Remember that you don't want your readers to keep running to their dictionary, searching up words just to understand your paragraph.

Look for the Perfect Word - Similarly, there's a time for using the perfect word. Many beginner writers are guilty of using the word "very." Instead of saying "very annoying," replace it with "exasperating." Know the difference of words if you're not sure. Was the new employee "praiseworthy" or "admirable?" Consult your dictionary every now and then if you're unsure of the meaning and difference of words.

Vary the Length - Paragraphs don't always have to be long. Writers vary their paragraphs to create interest in their readers. Just because a text is broken down into paragraphs doesn't mean your readers won't get bored of it. Imagine your reader making a quick scan of your work. Visuals play an important role here as well.

Play with length to entice readers to read more. It could be two to three sentences in a paragraph or if it's a casual article, even a fragment is acceptable.

Just like this sentence.


Use Bullets and Numbers where Necessary - This isn't just to visually please your readers. It also makes it easier and clearer to comprehend. This is especially true if you're writing about instructions or explaining points. Also remember that if there are numbers, percentages, and equations involved in your writing, it's easier for a reader to grasp the idea if you break these down separately instead of combining and explaining it in one paragraph.

Attract Readers with Every Paragraph
Don't ignore the power of paragraphs. Always make it sound and look sexy to appeal to readers. Think of writing a paragraph as marketing and selling a product. You want every paragraph to be read with burning curiosity. As a writer, it's not just your job to sit down and write. A passionate writer has goals of capturing their readers' attention and keep them coming back for more.

- Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Sommers. A Writer's Reference with Writing in the Disciplines. Macmillan, 2011.

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Last review and update: August 30, 2021
About the Editor
Ben Benjabutr is the editor of BookWorm4Life. He holds a Master's Degree in business with 10+ years of work experience and 8+ years of experience in blogging and online content production. He enjoys reading books about business, lifestyle and literature and he loves to share what he learns from books. You can drop him a line via e-mail.