Body Paragraphs

The purpose of the body paragraphs is to develop and explain the main reasons given for writer's position in the introduction paragraph. Each body paragraph explains one of the reasons and makes an argument in support of the position. Because there are three reasons given in the thesis statement, there should be at least three body paragraphs in the composition. In persuasive compositions, the reasons are not just informative, but are arguments that are relevant and logical and have been chosen to persuade the reader.

The Body Paragraph

The Paragraph Main Idea or Topic Sentence
Each "reason" in the thesis becomes the main idea or topic sentence of the body paragraph. It is typically the first sentence of the paragraph.

The Paragraph Elaboration Sentences
The paragraph's main idea or topic sentence is followed by 2-3 elaboration sentences. Elaborations help explain and give more details to support the paragraph's topic sentence so that the reader is better able to understand the issue. In some writing programs, elaborations are called detail sentences because they provide more details about the topic sentence. Regardless of what your writing program calls them, the body paragraph must have at least 2-3 sentences that explain, support, and discuss in more detail the argument of the paragraph's topic sentence.

One way to make the body paragraph more interesting is to vary the types of elaboration or detail sentences. If the elaborations are all facts, it makes the paragraph read like a grocery list which can be boring. To help choose an interesting mix of details, ask yourself a series of questions about the main argument of your topic sentence. Here are some questions to get you started:
Who does this affect?
Why does anyone care?
Who stands to gain from this?
Where does this problem occur?
What would happen if nothing changed?
What can be done?
When can this be accomplished?
How can this problem be helped?
Now think of some questions of your own about the paragraph's main argument by starting with one of the following question words: who, what, where, why, when, and how.
Out of these, choose 2-3 of the most supportive details, while also trying to choose details that come from different question words. This technique will help vary the elaboration sentences and make the writing more interesting.

Fact, Statistic, Example, or Life Experience
Elaboration or detail sentences should be followed up by a concrete fact, statistic, example, or life experience to support and give credibility to the elaboration sentence. Asking questions about an elaboration sentence using the same process described above, will help the writer to think of varying examples to use for support.

Concluding Paragraph Sentence
It is a good writing strategy to conclude the body paragraph with a restatement of the paragraph's main idea or topic sentence. This refocuses the reader and gives closure to the body paragraph's argument.

Addressing the Counter-Arguments
The arguments that others might have against your position need to be anticipated, acknowledged, and addressed in either one of the three body paragraphs or as a separate, fourth body paragraph. Just as in the body paragraphs above, the counter-argument paragraph needs to have a counter-argument topic sentence and 2-3 elaboration or detail sentences that give facts/details/evidence as to why this counter-argument is not as valid as the writer's.