3 ideas to become a better writer

The challenges of writing are endless. First of all, it is a complex action which takes practice and passion to polish. Secondly, writers need a lot of self-awareness in order to identify and correct the mistakes they make. Students are assessed critically by their teachers, who will guide them in order to accomplish better writing products. Nevertheless, the help of an educator is not always available and when writing is a common practice, the writer needs to reflect on his/her own practices. In this article, we present 3 ideas to monitor your own writing process, to become an active learner and a better writer!

Writer’s block and how to overcome it

Writer’s block is a common experience for those who dedicate themselves to writing. More often than not, the biographies of our favourite authors are filled with anecdotes of dry spells, droughts of inspiration and creative infertility, all of which points towards an unacknowledged, often ignored truth: no one is free from the writer’s curse, and every writer has to devise their own way of breaking it, even if only momentarily.

Capitalisation

Capitalisation in English may be an issue if it differs too much from the capitalisation rules of your mother tongue. In this entry, we explain the most common capitalisation rules in English.

The thesis statement

When writing an essay, its main idea must be clearly stated at the beginning. That is the role of the thesis statement of an essay.

The thesis statement is usually the last part of the first paragraph of an essay (the introduction). It can be one or two sentences long. In the thesis statement, the writer tells the reader what to expect in the essay. There are two types of thesis statements, namely, stated and implied – also known as direct and indirect respectively.

The hook: catch your readers’ attention!

In this entry, we want to teach you some ways to catch your readers’ attention and make them read your essay. This is not as difficult as you may think. Actually, there are strategies to do it.

The first thing you must know is the concept of “hook”. The hook is the opening sentence of any essay. It is used to catch the reader’s attention and grab their interest so that they will want to read the essay. These are some strategies to write a good hook:

Supporting sentences

In this entry, our aim is to help you write good supporting sentences for your paragraphs. To begin with, what is a supporting sentence?

Supporting sentences are the ones that develop the topic sentence. They give information that explains and expands the topic of the paragraph. They also answer the questions who? what? where? when? why? how? in order to develop the main idea. Finally, good supporting sentences have different goals.

What are the different goals of supporting sentences?

Explain

The family moved from the village to the capital for
economic reasons.

Describe

She lived in a lovely three-storey castle surrounded by a forest.

Give facts

More than 10% of the university’s student population is international.

Exemplify

Different types of fruit grow in California, such as oranges and grapefruit.

Define

Many tourists visit Bangkok, which is the capital and largest city in Thailand.

You don’t have to use them all in the same paragraph. The type of supporting sentences you will use depends on the purpose of your paragraph.

The main aspect to keep in mind is that all supporting sentences must be connected and related to the topic sentence of your paragraph.

Here you have an example:

I have a dream to visit Alaska. The weather is beautiful there. I love cold weather. When the temperature is low, I have energy! I also want to visit Alaska because I love nature. Alaska looks so pure and natural. I dream about its scenic landscape. In addition, there are wild animals. Finally, I want to learn important information about the native people of Alaska. Their culture sounds very interesting to me. I hope to visit this wonderful state soon.

All the sentences in bold support the first sentence (topic sentence). They develop the main idea. In other words, the author explains why s/he wants to visit Alaska. Notice that all the supporting sentences are connected to the main idea. All of them are relevant to justify why the author has this dream.

You’re now ready to write amazing supporting sentences for your paragraph!

Keep practising your writing with WriteBetter.


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The concluding sentence

A very important aspect to consider when writing is to leave a good final impression on your readers. That is why you need an effective final sentence that wraps up the ideas developed in your paragraph: a concluding sentence.

What is the concluding sentence?

It is the last sentence of a paragraph. It is the sentence that brings the paragraph to a logical conclusion.

What are the different types of concluding sentences?

The concluding sentence may have different functions. The one you choose will depend on the effect you want to produce in your reader. Here are some functions:

Restatement of the main idea: as mentioned in our entry about the topic sentence, this is the one that states the main idea of the paragraph. Therefore, one option to conclude your paragraph is to restate what you said in your topic sentence. For example, if your topic sentence is “At some point, most parents have to decide whether or not to allow their children to have pets”, your concluding sentence could be “In brief, although many children want a pet, parents are divided on this issue for a number of reasons”. If you see both sentences, they refer to the same idea, and there is a logical connection between them. It is a sort of paraphrasing.

Giving an opinion: another good way to finish your paragraph is to provide your own opinion as the writer of that piece of text. For example, if your paragraph talks about the features of sports cars, you could close your it saying “Whatever the reasons, I think sports cars are here to stay”. For this type of sentence, use verbs such as think, believe, consider, regard, etc.

Making a prediction: you can also make a prediction based on your supporting sentences to finish your paragraph. For example, if your paragraph explains different tips to lose weight, your concluding sentence could be something like “By doing all these things, you can be certain that you will lose weight very quickly”. 

Offering a suggestion: as a writer, you can also offer a suggestion based on what you wrote. For this, you can use some verbs like suggest, recommend, propose, advise, etc. For example, if your paragraph talks about the advantages of travelling, your concluding sentence could be “Considering all the benefits of travelling, I strongly recommend you leave home and start exploring the world!”.

These are the four main ways to close your paragraph. Now you are ready to wrap up your paragraph and leave a good final impression to your readers.

Use WriteBetter and keep improving your writing skills!


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The topic sentence

In our previous entry, we explained the structure of a paragraph and how to write a good one. The key idea was that a paragraph is composed of three main elements: topic sentence, supporting sentences, and concluding sentence. In this entry, we will explain in detail what a topic sentence is and the relevance it has in a paragraph. A topic sentence has some characteristics and clear functions we will explain as follows. 

It is usually the first sentence of a paragraph, which states its main idea.

The topic sentence must state only one idea clearly because it guides the reader to understand what the paragraph is going to talk about. This topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph creates expectations, i.e., the reader makes predictions about what is coming next based on the idea stated. For example, if my topic sentence is “Dogs are the best pets in the world”, the reader expects to read about the reasons why the writer of the paragraph says so.

A good topic sentence is not a general fact that everyone accepts as true. 

For example, a bad topic sentence would be “The sun rises every morning”. The information in this sentence is true, but it is a general fact and is not a good choice for a topic sentence. What else can we say about that? nothing very interesting.

A topic sentence is specific.

For example, if we write “Academic writing is important”, our readers will not know what to expect. The information in that sentence is too general and does not help create expectations. A better version of that sentence could be something like “Improving your academic writing is crucial for you to succeed at college”. This topic sentence lets us know immediately what is coming next. We will probably read about arguments related to the relevance of academic writing for college students and their academic performance.

Even though a topic sentence must be specific, it cannot be too specific.

For example, if our topic sentence is “Whales are warm-blooded and have a layer of fat or blubber under the skin”, how can the writer develop this main idea? what else can the writer say about it? probably not much because that is a very specific characteristic of the main topic of the paragraph (whales). 

These four ideas are key to write a good topic sentence for your paragraph. Keep them in mind because your topic sentence is the one that creates expectations and lets your reader know what your paragraph talks about. 

Also, remember that practice makes perfect, so keep writing and try out WriteBetter to improve your writing skills. 

*Adapted from Folse, K. (2010). Great writing 2: Great Paragraphs.


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How to write a good paragraph

Writing well is a difficult task most of the time. The eternal struggle is to put on paper what you have in mind. Many people think so and feel that way because they do not know how to structure their thoughts and ideas correctly. Here we are to help you organise your ideas and teach you how to start a successful writing process. Just giving baby steps you can start to write better. In this post, you will learn how to write a good and effective paragraph.

The first thing you must know is that paragraphs have a structure composed of three main elements: topic sentence, supporting sentences, and concluding sentence. These three elements must be present to write a cohesive and coherent paragraph. Imagine a paragraph as a sandwich, like this one:

As you can see in the picture above, the place and size of the elements of the sandwich are the same as in the paragraph. In other words, the top bun (topic sentence) and bottom bun (concluding sentence) are there to open and close the sandwich (the paragraph) respectively. They are the thinnest part of the sandwich, while the supporting sentences are what give flavour to your sandwich. Each element of this sandwich has a particular function. First, the topic sentence states the main idea and gives context to your readers. They should understand immediately what the paragraph is going to talk about just reading the topic sentence. Second, the supporting sentences answer the questions who? what?  where? when? why? etc. In other words, they develop the main idea stated in the topic sentence. Finally, the concluding sentence wraps up the paragraph giving a summary, restating the main idea, giving a final thought, prediction, opinion, etc. Here is an example of a very well written paragraph that follows this structure.

I have a dream to visit Alaska. The weather is beautiful there. I love cold weather. When the temperature is low, I have energy! I also want to visit Alaska because I love nature. Alaska looks so pure and natural. I dream about its scenic landscape. In addition, there are wild animals. Finally, I want to learn important information about the native people of Alaska. Their culture sounds very interesting to me. I hope to visit this wonderful state soon. 

*This paragraph was taken from Folse, K. (2010). Great writing 2: Great Paragraphs.

Can you identify the elements of this paragraph? Let’s check them together.

Topic sentence

“I have a dream to visit Alaska.” This sentence tells the reader what the paragraph is going to be about. As a reader, we expect to read about the reasons why this person wants to visit Alaska, which is the main idea of the paragraph.

Supporting sentences

“The weather is beautiful there. I love cold weather. When the temperature is low, I have energy! I also want to visit Alaska because I love nature. Alaska looks so pure and natural. I dream about its scenic landscape. In addition, there are wild animals. Finally, I want to learn important information about the native people of Alaska. Their culture sounds very interesting to me.” All these sentences explain why the author of this paragraph wants to visit Alaska. So, these sentences meet the expectations of the readers.

Concluding sentence

“I hope to visit this wonderful state soon.” This sentence wraps up the paragraph and gives a final thought. It is important to notice that a concluding sentence never adds new information. This sentence does not give another reason to visit Alaska, but it restates what the author said in the topic sentence.

Use this paragraph structure and improve your writing skills!

If you need inspiration to write your paragraphs, try our software WriteBetter.


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