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Agony Aunt > Paragraph Help

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message 1: by Elle (last edited Mar 18, 2013 08:21AM) (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments I hate paragraphs *grumbles*

Okay, I do not hate them that much but I have a question about them.

Academic question just for the record. I am not a writer of fiction if you are wondering why I am about to babble about religion.

Anyway..............

(Can you tell I am mid-crazy-essay-period?)

My essay is broke into two main arguments/discussions (arguments is probably too strong a word but discussion seems too feeble for the points I am making) and it's individual versus social religion.

My problem is that within these arguments the points are relating to a single voice. AKA point for James, point for Boyer, point for Aldred. Giving each person a new paragraph looks ridiculous as then it's a pile of short paragraphs after two normal ones (the intro and defining part) BUT when you put all the points together they make an extra long paragraph.

my question is a simple go for the too long or go for the too short? if anyone wants to be a smartass and attempt to sit on a fence or suggest another way, just do not. the points are totally different but fall under the same umbrella so splitting them into maybe two paragraphs would make even less sense as it would seem like a random break.

too long versus too short?

i'm tempted for too long but.... I went in for a session on how to work paragraphs last year (apparently I'd completely forgotten how to use a paragraph in my education break) and I got told anything over a page is too long but anything under 10 lines is too short. My short points are about 6-7 lines long but put together they make a page and a half.


message 2: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Hmmm. It's a long time since I did an academic essay! I don't know what would be considered correct but I'd be tempted to go for separate short ones, for the sake of clarity.

If you get thrown out of your course though, I never said nuffun'!


Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 3001 comments From what I remember about this sort of thing, you shouldn't try to make one long article that discusses both points at the same time - instead, write exclusively about one side, and then do the same for other side.

After that, do some kind of summary.


message 4: by Elle (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments Michael wrote: "From what I remember about this sort of thing, you shouldn't try to make one long article that discusses both points at the same time - instead, write exclusively about one side, and then do the sa..."

=\

Maybe I did not make myself clear but I am doing this. This question is in regards to the central part of my essay wherein I talk about individual religion first and then social second. My problem is that within each of these points, I have much smaller points that make up too small paragraphs..


message 5: by Elle (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments Ignite wrote: "Hmmm. It's a long time since I did an academic essay! I don't know what would be considered correct but I'd be tempted to go for separate short ones, for the sake of clarity.

If you get thrown o..."


hahaha! I am normally quite good at knowing when or where a paragraph should break (or at least I am now) but this essay has me stumped.

I shall go with shorter until someone shouts at me and tells me to do otherwise. Thank you, oh great grammar one.


Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 3001 comments Erm, dunno then.

It's this sort of thing that put me off attempting an open university course a few years ago.

Learning is good.
Essays are shite.


message 7: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments My difficulty in trying to help is that I took a practical science course - no essays. I did them in the Archaeology Cert. course but they were more concerned with how you cited your references than with the lengths of your paragraphs.


message 8: by Elle (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments I do not mind essays at all although I have a bad head for grammar, layout and referencing. It takes me longer than writing the essay sometimes.


message 9: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18543 comments I got software at Uni from my lecturers that did the referencing for me. I just had to type them into the database on the software


message 10: by Jacquelynn (new)

Jacquelynn Luben (jackieluben) | 278 comments I thought I'd pop a comment in, and you may remember you read my dissertation, Louise, some time back. I went to have a look how I'd dealt with lots of small points that I wanted to make, and I'd put in lots of short paragraphs; some of them were only a couple of lines long, and some were four or five lines long. So I'd go with the smaller paragraphs, not the longer.
Best wishes, and I hope it goes well.


message 11: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments One point / view / idea per paragraph is the general principal. From my (distant - it's been 30 years!) memory of academic essay writing, anything under about 4 sentences gets frowned upon to some extent, but the more that with only writing what you need to write in order to get the point across. Ie don't waffle purely to get the word / sentence count up. The purpose of an essay is to clearly communicate your ideas. Actually no, the purpose of an essay in this context is to get high marks, whis is subtley different...

I wouldn't worry too much about 6 or 7 lines being too short - if you've developed and communicated the point, then the job is done; anything more is just waffle.

As with ignite, standard disclaimer if it goes pear shaped: I was not here; I did not say this ;)


message 12: by Elle (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments Jacquelynn wrote: "I thought I'd pop a comment in, and you may remember you read my dissertation, Louise, some time back. I went to have a look how I'd dealt with lots of small points that I wanted to make, and I'd ..."

thank you!


okay. general consensus is go short. got itttttt.


message 13: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments I rather thought the consensus was, whatever you decide, don't blame us! ;)


message 14: by Beverley (new)

Beverley Carter | 199 comments I agree with the point = paragraph rule, and understand your dilemma about two main points and gigantic paragraphs or breaking them down into smaller chunks. It's difficult to comment without seeing the essay but I would set it out in a way that you think looks clearest. I have been criticised for having one sentence paragraphs, so if yours are this small, try rearranging things so that you avoid that.

Make sure you have an introductory paragraph that, if appropriate, states which side of the fence you are on, and also a closing paragraph that summarises the points you are making.

They will mark you on your argument and evidence and I shouldn't think you will lose any marks just because they might not prefer your layout. Good luck! :)


message 15: by Elle (new)

Elle (louiselesley) | 7913 comments I handed it in yesterday!

I ended up re-writing a few paragraphs so the paragraphs looked average length by the end of it.

And again, I really do know how to write an essay people...


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