Did you ever notice how some writers have a way of easing you from one paragraph to another with smooth transitions, interesting topic and final sentences that force you to keep reading, and manage to keep your thoughts organized–all at the same time? That doesn’t come easily. Writing powerful and persuasive paragraphs is hard work.

Here are some tips to get you started:

•  Think through your paragraphs before you write them. Think about your main goal and where you’re headed with each paragraph. Then consider how you will get from one paragraph to the next while maintaining a coherent train of thought for your reader. Outlining your paragraphs using main points and subpoints is very helpful for this.

• Choose your topic sentence wisely. Your topic sentence should tell your reader where you’re headed. Be sure it’s not too vague nor too narrow in scope. And make sure it covers precisely what you will be discussing. It is your vision statement for that paragraph.

• You must decide on a method of organization. Is the information you are presenting prone to being organized chronologically? Or, maybe step-by-step, as if you were sharing instructions? Or, perhaps it should be organized by problem then solution. Think about what you are presenting and which organization method makes the most sense for your information.

• After you decide how to organize your paragraph, write your subpoint sentences, making sure each one fully supports your topic sentence. If you find one that does not, delete it. To keep your reader tracking with you, your paragraph should progress in some orderly fashion with all sentences pointing back to your topic sentence. Do not permit any straggler, off-topic sentences to remain in your paragraph!

• End your paragraph with a sentence that either sums up the paragraph you just wrote or leads into the next paragraph. To write a lead-in sentence, either leave an unanswered question (which will be answered in your next paragraph) or omit some valuable piece of information that the reader simply must have and must keep reading to find out:

“After all, there is only one way to truly make it big as a professional athlete.”

• Use strong transition words to ease your reader into your next paragraph. The goal of transitions is that you don’t recognize that you’re moving to a new paragraph with a brand-new topic sentence and unique vision statement. You don’t want your reader to have to go back to your preceding paragraph looking for something they think they missed because you dove too abruptly into your new paragraph.

Words like therefore, thus, consider, again, or numbering in a sequence with second, third, or finally, work well as transitional words depending on your method of organization.

• Finally, check your sentences for varying length (all short or all long sentences are not effective), proper grammar, and readability. Make sure they flow well one to another. The best way to do this is to read your paragraphs out loud.

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