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Developing a Paragraph

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February 2010
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The paragraph is the unit of composition for nonfiction and creative nonfiction. So, if you want to write well, you need to know how to create a good paragraph. It has  a topical sentence, it has a smooth transition from one sentence to the next, it  is based on one or more methods of development.

In the last post, I discussed how to construct a coherent paragraph. In this post, I will explain the various methods of development that you can use to build a paragraph.

Methods of Development

There are many methods you can use to develop a paragraph. How you develop a paragraph often depends on its purpose. For instance, if you want to provide details, you could use the method of description. Or if you want to tell a story, such as an anecdote, you could use narrative. By knowing the various methods of development, you have more ways of expressing yourself and more tools to construct interesting prose. Here are the most popular methods of developing paragraphs:

  • Narration
  • Description
  • Process analysis
  • Example
  • Definition
  • Analysis
  • Comparison and contrast
  • Analogy
  • Cause and effect



You can develop a paragraph by using narration or storytelling. Often when using narration, you organize the story in chronological order and make the most important point your last point.


Today was a memorable day. First, I read the newspaper and sipped my coffee.  I learned that the unemployment rate has increased to 10%, the highest level in 26 years. To distract my mind and escape the bad news, I went for a walk in the snow. During my travels, I met and talked to Grace, my neighbour, who told me that her dog died. Afterwards, I continued my walk, ending up at the book store, where I purchased Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth. On the way home, right in front of my eyes, a pedestrian ran across the street without looking, and was run over by a dump truck. It was a memorable day.


You can develop a paragraph by using description. It appeals to the reader’s senses—the sense of sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. You can describe something using concrete and specific details or imagery.


The storm arrived without warning. The snow had fallen all night and continued. It covered the barren fields. It blew across the empty road, blocking the way to town. It drifted against the fences. Icicles decorated the power lines. The trees stood, lifeless, and still. The snowman watched, while the snow buried the decayed leaves of autumn.

Process Analysis

You can develop a paragraph using process analysis. Its purpose is to explain a sequence or provide step-by-step instructions.


Before submitting, a good poet completes many rewrites of his/her work. First, the writer must revise and edit his/her work, often more than 40 times Next, the writer must write the final draft. Finally, the writer must proofread his/her work and then submit it for publication.


You can develop a paragraph by using an example. The example provides support or proof or evidence for the topical sentence.


Many writers live isolated lives. For instance, after writing “Catcher in the Rye”, J.D. Salinger lived as a recluse…


You can develop a paragraph by using a definition. Its purpose is to explain the meaning of a word or concept or idea.


What is poetry? It has many meanings. In fact, there is no single definition of a poem. To some, it is the deep expression of the soul. To others, it evokes an emotional response in the reader. To others, it is the use of poetic language that reveals a truth about the human condition.


You can develop a paragraph by using analysis or division. This method enables you to discuss the parts in relation to the whole. You divide the subject or idea or concept into its parts, and then discuss each.


How do you understand a poem? You need to interpret it. First, read the poem several times. Next, determine the form of the poem. Is it free verse or metrical verse? Then, paraphrase the meaning of the poem. If you don’t understand the words in the poem, look up the meaning in the dictionary. Next, determine how the poet uses figurative language, such as simile and metaphor….

Comparison or Contrast

You can develop a paragraph using either comparison or contrast. If you want to compare something, you show the similarities between two different things. If you want to contrast something, you show the differences between two different things.


(A paragraph developed using similarities)

Fiction writing and creative nonfiction have many things in common. Both are based on prose, not poetry. Both use storytelling to make a point. Both use figurative language, such as simile and metaphor to create interesting prose. Both use the elements of fiction, especially setting, plot, characterization….


You can develop a paragraph using analogy. It is a type of comparison that attempts to clarify, often something abstract or obtuse, showing the similarities. Essentially, you are comparing the familiar with the unfamiliar.


The brain is like a computer. You input information, process it, discard it, store it, and retrieve it. Like a computer, sometimes the brain stops functioning properly.

Cause and Effect

You can develop a paragraph using cause and effect. The causes are the reasons for the outcome; the effects are the consequences or results. You can develop a paragraph identifying only causes, or effects, or both.


(Essay based on the effects or reasons )

Learning to write well has many benefits. First, you will be able to write better essays, reports, and exams, which will improve you marks in college or university. Secondly, you will communicate better in the workplace. Thirdly, those who read your prose will judge you to be an educated person. Fourthly, you have a much better chance of publishing a novel or article or personal essay.

The important point to remember about developing a paragraph is to learn the different methods and use them.

In the next post, I will discuss how to organize a paragraph.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them to this blog.



  1. dah says:

    Is the exposition included to this methods of developing paragraphs?

  2. lorna says:

    when you are to construct the effect of developing paragraph what can you use?

  3. gener tabamo says:

    Ty FOr The Answer!!

  4. MB says:

    Fantastic! Thank you for having samples of each!

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