Organizing a Paragraph

     You can learn much about how paragraphs are put together by taking one apart and putting it back together in a different pattern. The first such exercise will ask you to reconstruct the following paragraph from memory, after copying down an outline of its structure.  Next you will be asked to reorganize it using a different structure.  Here is the (rather silly) paragraph.  Note well how it begins—with the topic sentence.  Both a paragraph and an essay begin with the main idea, and this starting point will remain the same no matter how the rest of the document is organized.

     Although Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee seem identical, there are some major differences between them. Tweedle Dum is average: he is a conformist. He wears his socks in an average way, he sets his watch to the correct time, and he wears his hat in the proper fashion, front foremost. Tweedle Dee is not average: he prides himself on being a nonconformist. To show his disregard for standard procedure, he wears the left sock on the right foot. Instead of setting his watch so he knows what time it is now, Tweedle Dee sets his watch exactly one day behind so he knows what time it was yesterday. And even though the back is identical to the front, he flagrantly strikes out against the world by wearing his hat backwards.

(Adapted from David Skwire et al., Student's Book of College English, Beverly Hills: Glencoe Press, 1975: 144.)

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