ENGLISH / VON WAHLDE THE “PERFECT” PARAGRAPH Every paragraph is, by its very definition as the development of a single idea, an analysis of a subject since that single idea is part of a larger topic. The “analytical paragraph” reflects a further exercise in analysis: the selection of a passage from the reading that is incorporated as a quotation, paraphrase, or summary in the body of the discussion within the paragraph. 1. The Topic Sentence The topic sentence is a claim that includes a main idea or focus. Developing that main idea or focus is the purpose of the paragraph. In an essay, the topic sentence may also serve as a transition sentence that connects the new ideas to the ideas discussed in a previous paragraph. (It is also possible for the topic sentence of a paragraph to follow a transition sentence). 2. The Lead-in Statement(s) The lead-in statement is a sentence that identifies the source, the function of the author in writing the quotation that follows, and the main idea of the quotation that follows. The lead-in statement is important in that it provides a citation of the author and source necessary to avoid plagiarism. A follow-up statement is usually necessary in order to provide the context for the quote you are about to insert: a note about who, what, or when the information being quoted appears in a text. This information helps to provide the reader with an understanding of how the information from the text relates to what you want to prove. 3. The Quotation The quotation is a passage selected from the source that helps you develop the main idea or focus of the paragraph. The quotation may be as short as a key word or phrase or as long as several sentences. A short quotation is placed inside quotation marks at the beginning and the end of the passage. A quotation longer than four lines of writing or typing is “blocked,” that is, each line is indented two tabs over from the left margin. Since the blocking of the text indicates that it is a quotation, no quotation marks are placed at the beginning or the end of the passage. 4. The Response to the Quotation Generally, avoid ending a paragraph with a quotation. Doing so assumes that the quoted text clearly 1) provides transition into your next paragraph, and 2) illuminates its relationship to the main idea of the paragraph without additional support or commentary. In most cases, quotations will not be very successful in performing either function. a. How to Develop the Response to the Quotation Ask yourself, “What do I want to do with the quotation?” You can do one or a combination of the following tasks in developing the response to the quotation: 1. Repeat key words or phrases for emphasis. ENGLISH / VON WAHLDE 2. Paraphrase and introduce additional sections of the source. 3. Summarize the main points of the quotation or reference. 4. Define key terms introduced in the passage. 5. Compare/Contrast key concepts with other outside information you have 6. Interpret the meaning of the quotation or reference. 7. Debate concepts introduced in the passage with which you disagree 8. Evaluate (judge or take a position) on ideas introduced in the passage. Closing Sentence(s) The final sentence of your paragraph should bring closure to the ideas you have presented. Good analytical paragraphs are "rounded off" with a sentence or two that confidently re-assert the topic point as a logical conclusion to the paragraph's argument. However, concluding sentences in analytical paragraphs also allow writers to insert transitional statements that will link to the next paragraph in the essay's body. See if you can identify the different parts of the following sample: While in Mirkwood Forest, Bilbo’s reputation with the dwarves vastly improves. When the dwarves are captured by spiders, it is Bilbo who comes to their rescue. Bilbo’s heroic deed causes the dwarves to respect him even more because “They knew only too well that they would soon all have been dead, if it had not been for the hobbit; and they thanked him many times. Some of them even got up and bowed…” (Tolkien 166). Their gratitude is shown by their many thanks. Some of the dwarves also bow, which shows a level of respect and honor for Bilbo that the dwarves did not previously have. The dwarves’ new attitude toward Bilbo shows that the dwarves are starting to regard him as an invaluable member of their journey, and implies that he will face future challenges with even more confidence.