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Narration | Process | Classification | Division | Compare & Contrast | Cause & Effect | Example | Description | Persuasion

Methods of development are patterns of organization that writers use to organize their ideas about a topic.  Although a lot of writing you will come across does not rely solely on one method of development, an understanding of these patterns will help you organize your ideas and get you writing more quickly.    

Choosing a Method of Development

An understanding of different methods of development and when to use them can save you valuable time in starting and organizing your essay.   Many, if not most, essays by professional writers will contain elements of several types of development.  A piece in the travel section of a newspaper could include narration, description, compare and contrast, classification, and illustration or example.  A typical article on new cars in the auto section will likely be developed using both a classification and compare and contrast approach.   

Take some time to decide what you want to say and then decide which method of development will be the most effective in presenting your ideas.  You don't have to slavishly adhere to a single form of development.  Think of methods of development as writing tools to help you organize and focus your writing.  Following are some common methods of development with some tips on how to organize and develop your essay.    

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Narration

A narrative paragraph or essay:

  • Tells a story

  • Explains how something happened

Generally, when writing a narrative paragraph you will usually relate events in the order in which they occurred.  Your topic sentence should identify the situation or event and prepare the reader for a story.  An effective narrative is more than just a chronological run through of the things that happen to you in a typical day.  It should contain some element of drama and tension.  

You can write an engaging narrative about topics like losing your wallet, discovering that a friend has lied to you, or finding or getting fired from your first job.  Keep in mind that in a narrative essay your readers are not looking for information; they are looking for some dramatic interest or conflict in your story.  They want to be entertained or emotionally engaged.

Most narratives are written from the first person (the "I") point of view as in the following example. 


Sample Narrative Paragraph  


My New Career  


The morning of my big job interview started like any other. I awoke with a good night's sleep under my belt determined and confident in getting a new job as a swamper for Williams Moving and Storage. The night before the interview, I practiced moving the furniture from one end of the house to the other.  My roommates thought I was crazy.  Arising from bed, I felt stronger, like a rodeo bull waiting to get out of his cage.  Sitting at the kitchen table eating my Wheaties, I started looking at the furniture around me in a new light. The hide-a-bed in the living room was a 300 pound finger-eating monster opening and closing snapping at me. Looking out onto the covered patio, the wicker furniture was floating, almost drifting by itself to the front door.  Then and there I knew that moving furniture was my calling.  Walking to the front door, I gave the hide-a-bed a good stiff kick.

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Process (also called how to, time order, process analysis)

A process paragraph or essay:

  • explains how to do something in a series of steps

  • explains how something works

Process writing need not be limited to concrete practical subjects such as building a doghouse or installing drywall.   A process paragraph or essay might tell you how to plan a budget holiday, prepare for final exams, get a deal on a used car, or revive a sputtering romance.  Pick a subject you know about and explain the process in logical steps. 

Consider all the information your reader would need in order to follow your instructions.

Avoid topics like how to tie your shoes or how to bake an apple pie which are unlikely to excite a reader.  If you work out regularly, you might write about the steps to improved physical fitness.  If you fish, you might offer advice on how to prepare yourself for a fishing trip. Write about what you know, and search for a unique slant on your topic.

Process essays that give instructions are most often written in the second person. 

Address the reader directly as you, but recall that there is an implied you in imperative (command) sentences.  For example in the sentence, "Remove the lid.", the subject you is understood but not directly stated.  Note how the reader is addressed and how the steps are organized in the following process paragraphs.  


Sample Process Paragraph 1    


Executing an Ollie


Being able to ollie on a skateboard—jumping in such a way that the skateboard sticks to your feet—is not as hard as most people think, as long as you learn some basic steps.  The first step is the positioning of your feet. Your back foot should be on the tail of your board.  Meanwhile, your front foot should be just behind the screws of the front trucks (wheels). You should be standing mostly on your toes, with your heel and toes pointed outwards.  Once your feet are in proper position, start to bend your knees to approximately ninety degrees and prepare to jump.  There are three things you now need—the three C's: comfort, control, and confidence.  Without these you will be eating a lot of pavement. Now kick down and back with your back foot so that the board pops into the air.  Immediately afterward, slide the front foot up towards the nose to level out the board.  Finally, bend your knees again and prepare for impact. The only step remaining is practice and lots of it.  So, if doing an ollie doesn't sound so tough, wait until you actually try one.  


Sample Process Paragraph 2    


Building Great Pecs  


Having a great looking chest is easier than most people think.  It starts with a few simple steps.  First, begin with a flat bench press. Start with approximately 60% of your body weight.  While lying on your back on the bench, grab the bar firmly with both hands so they line up with the ends of your shoulders.  Push the bar up to release it form the holder and extend your arms.  Avoid fully locking your arms.  Then, bring the bar down slowly until it touches your chest.  Push the bar back up at twice the speed it was brought down.  Do ten repetitions and then take a two-minute rest.  This completes one set.  Add more weight if  needed and complete three more sets.  Within several weeks, your chest muscles will increase dramatically in size and you'll be ready for the beach.  

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Classification

A classification paragraph or essay:

  • explains a subject by dividing into types or categories

Although we may not think about it much, we are constantly classifying things by breaking them into types, groups or categories. By classifying things, we better understand the distinct qualities of two subjects in the same general group. If we are shopping for a new bicycle, we have probably gone through a process of classification. 

Do we want a road bike, a mountain bike, or a hybrid bike?  By breaking down the larger category of bikes into different types of bikes, we are better able to understand the key features of different types of bikes and choose the type that best suits our needs. 

Begin your classification paragraph or essay by breaking down your subject into at least three distinct groups or categories.  

Examples: types of parenting styles could include strict, liberal, and permissive; types of video games could include role-playing, simulation, and shoot-em-up; types of dogs could include family pets, show dogs, and working dogs.  However you break down your topic you should identify the basis for the classification.  What are the qualities that distinguish each of your categories? 

If you are classifying drivers you might group them into reckless, sensible, and overly cautious.  Your basis for classification then would be how they drive. You might point to some specific examples to illustrate some of their driving behaviours and you might make the link between driving styles and personality.

Note how the writer in "Tattoo You" has used classification to provide a humorous picture of annoying clientele in her tattoo studio.  


Sample Classification Paragraph  


Tattoo You  

 
Having worked in a tattoo studio for the past year, I have come to recognize three types of annoying customers that invariably stroll through the door.  The first is the Time Waster.  Generally the Time Waster is not serious about getting a tattoo now, or probably ever, but nevertheless is hell-bent on wasting the artist's time with a barrage of inane questions.  They often talk big and have grandiose plans for the ultimate backpiece.  But when it comes time to put down a deposit for the work, they suddenly say something like, "That sounds great.  I'll be back in six months when my next student loan comes in."  Meanwhile, the artist has started drawing the design while three serious clients went to another less "busy" studio.  The next type of annoying client is the Know-it-all.  These people usually have a friend with a tattoo, or maybe even a small one themselves, and therefore consider themselves to be experts on the subject. They contradict the artist on everything, and insist on using words they've heard in a movie because they think it makes them sound in the know.  What they don't realize, however, is that those in the know would never use a word like "tatty" to describe the art.  Finishing up the list of types of annoying tattoo studio customers is the Bargain Hunter.  The Bargain Hunters clearly believe that when having a design committed to their skin for life, getting the lowest price is the top priority.  Bargain Hunters often have a "buddy" from some disreputable source—like their kitchen table—who "would do it much cheaper."  What all these people don't seem to realize is that tattooing is a serious art form that artists dedicate their lives to learning and executing.  A little respect and some manners would be appreciated.  

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Division

A division paragraph or essay:

  • explains a subject by dividing it into its essential parts

Division is sometimes confused with classification, but it works a little differently.  For example, if you were classifying restaurants, you might group them into fast food, ethnic, family, and gourmet.  Approaching the subject of restaurants with a view to developing your essay through division, you would look at the qualities or the parts of a good restaurant such as food, service and atmosphere.  

In a division essay you identify and explain the essential qualities that make up the whole.  What are the qualities of the ideal city, job or friend? For some, the characteristics of the ideal city might include a pleasant climate, an attractive physical setting, and an active cultural scene, while for others ideal characteristics might include an active night life, cheap rents, good beaches, and a high numbers of single young people. Your ideal job might directly use your education and skills, present constant new challenges, and allow you to work independently.  An ideal friend would be loyal, fun to be with, and mentally stimulating.  You can use the same approach for any number of topics.  Once you have defined the essential parts, you have the basic structure of your essay laid out.

An essay about what makes a great action movie could be organized effectively using a division model.  Your introduction could point out that in order for an action movie to be great, three elements—acting, screenplay, and special effects—must be convincing and work well together.  Each of your body paragraphs would focus on one of these elements.  


Sample Division Paragraph  


Great Action Flicks


Hollywood continues to produce a constant stream of expensive, big effects action movies, but most of these lack the ingredients of a great film. For a start, any film worth watching needs good actors who can deliver their lines convincingly.  The wooden monotones of many muscle bound heroes have sunk many an action film.  Secondly, action films today need to have truly spectacular special effects.  But these need to be creatively developed, rather than just featuring an endless series of computer-generated explosions and battles.  The last and probably most important ingredient is a convincing screenplay.  If the audience can't buy into the story, neither Arnold nor the Lucas Film Special Effects Team can save the film. Yet, when a good story is supported by solid acting and dazzling special effects, we can't help but be seduced by the magic of Hollywood.   

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Comparison and Contrast

A comparison and contrast paragraph or essay:

  • explains how two subjects are similar or different

In our daily lives we constantly make comparisons.  We compare breakfast serials, TV shows, teachers, music, girlfriends and boyfriends, jobs, etc.  In fact we compare almost everything to something else.  Then we make choices about what we like or don't like and about what we want or definitely don't want.  We often don't give much thought as to how we are making these comparisons, but usually there is an underlying logic.  

By making comparisons carefully, we can make can make better choices.  For example, if we are looking for a new computer we will probably look at several manufacturers and models and then make our decision.  We may compare on the basis of price, features, brand reputation, and service quality. Once we have weighed all these points, we'll decide what model to buy and where to buy it.  We've all been through this process, but rarely have we had to write about it. Writing out our thoughts not only helps us better understand the reasons for making a decision, but can help others make more informed choices.

A comparison and contrast composition is a formal way of organizing our thoughts.  It explains the differences and similarities between two subjects and helps us evaluate subjects to understand their advantages and disadvantages, or strengths and weaknesses.  

If we're looking for an apartment, we compare and contrast the cost, size, location, and condition of various apartments before we make a choice.  When you really think about it, most consumerism is one big exercise in comparison and contrast. When purchasing a car, a toaster, a computer, or even a bottle of shampoo, most people compare several makes, models, or manufacturers. 

To compare two subjects, you first have to decide what the basis of your comparison is. When comparing two cars you are thinking about buying, you might look at styling, dependability record, performance, standard features, and comfort.  When you have completed your comparison you can make a more informed choice.

A good way to begin organizing a comparison and contrast paragraph is by dividing your page into two columns and writing the name of your two points of comparison at the top of each column.  The Divide and List approach will make it easier to decide upon the organization pattern that will work best for your paragraph. 

Suppose you want to compare the advantages and disadvantages of commuting by bus rather than by car under the general title of "Transportation Choices".  Place a title at the top of the page and divide the page into two columns, one for car and one for bus.

Transportation Choices

Car  

Public Transit  

Expensive

  • Gas, insurance repairs, cost of vehicle

  •  

Convenient

  • No schedules, go when you want

  • Go door to door

  • Can carry groceries, kids, dogs, etc.  

Comfortable

  • Comfortable seats, private

  • Can listen to radio, drink coffee  

  •  

High environmental impact

  • Pollution

  • Traffic congestion  

 

Cheap

  • Bus pass  

 

Less convenient

  • Limited schedules and stops

  • No privacy

  • Limited to what you can carry on  

  •  

Uncomfortable

  • Noisy, share seats,

  • Uncomfortable, may have to stand  

Lower environmental impact

  • Buses pollute much less per person

  • Reduced congestion if most commuters use buses  

 

The table above shows the key points of comparison as well as supporting ideas for each point. Note the basis of comparison is cost, convenience, comfort, and environmental impact.  These points will help you organize your paragraph. 

Choosing Between the Block Method and the Point-by-Point Method

There are two basic approaches to organizing a comparison and contrast essay: the point-by-point method and the block method (also called the subject-by-subject method).  In the point-by-point method you look at one aspect of your comparison at a time and relate it to the two subjects you are comparing. The examples below show the difference between the point-by-point and block method in a paragraph comparing car ownership and transit use.

Point-by-point paragraph organization:

Introduction  
Point 1   Cost

cars       ------      transit  

Point 2 Convenience

cars       ------      transit  

Point 3  Comfort

cars       ------      transit  

Point 4   Environmental impact

cars       ------      transit  

Conclusion

 


Comparison and Contrast using Point-by-Point Method Sample Paragraph


Transportation Choices  


When faced with the choice of driving their own car or using the bus, the majority of North Americans opt for cars.  They are not put off by the fact that owning and running a car is expensive when compared to the cost of monthly or annual transit passes in most cities.  In addition to the initial cost of a car there is gas, repairs, insurance and parking which add up to thousands a year while a typical bus pass is about $50 a month.  Yet most people are willing to pay this price for the convenience of owning a car. They enjoy the freedom of coming and going according to their own whims. They are simply not willing to put up with waiting for buses that stop far from their homes and are often packed with unkempt strangers.  Cars are comfortable and personal spaces, in contrast to the grungy and impersonal feeling of many buses.  But as they motor happily along, few car owners even think about what their personal vehicle use is doing to the environment.  Do they know that a loaded bus creates much less pollution per person than a car?   Unfortunately, until there is a huge change in the attitude of car owners towards using public transit, cars will continue to rule the roads and our environment and our cities will pay the price.  


In the block method, you deal with the points of comparison relating to one subject, and after a transition move on to your next subject.   

Block Method Paragraph Organization:  

Introduction

Cars:

  • Cost

  • Convenience

  • Comfort

  • Environmental Impact

Transition

Public Transit:

  • Cost

  • Convenience

  • Comfort

  • Environmental Impact

  Conclusion  


Comparison and Contrast Using the Block Method  


Transportation Choices


North Americans clearly prefer driving their own cars to using public transport. In many ways, the desire to own a car is easy to understand. True, cars are expensive to buy and run. Car payments, gas, insurance, and repairs can cost thousands per year. But people love the convenience of cars that they see as an expression of personal freedom.  Cars provide a comfortable small personal space in which people can drink coffee and listen to music.  Most car owners give little thought to the damage to the environment all these cars are doing even as they sit in traffic complaining about too many cars on the road.  Unlike car owners, bus riders are prepared to make some sacrifices to save money.  Bus schedules are not always convenient and buses don't take you to your door.  Standing on a jerky bus is no fun either.  Riders can, however, take some small pleasure in the knowledge that using a bus is the environmentally responsible way to get around town.  Unfortunately, until there is a huge change in the attitude of car owners towards using public transit, cars will continue to rule the roads and our environment and our cities will pay the price.  


Sample Comparison and Contrast Paragraph 2 Using Point by Point Method  


Synthetic Engine Oils: Worth the Price?


Drivers who want the best protection for their engines will find that synthetic oil offers several advantages over conventional oil.  First of all, it's better year round.  Synthetic oil flows freely at all temperatures and circulates immediately at start up.  Conventional oil thickens at low temperatures and takes time to warm up.  Synthetic oil is also more stable at high temperatures, making it more dependable in hot weather.  Second, synthetic oil is much cleaner than conventional oil.  It contains the finest detergents, rust inhibitors, and other additives that reduce friction and make the engine run smoother and cleaner.  Third, and perhaps most important, is that synthetic oil lasts longer.  Conventional oil must be changed every three months or 5000 kilometres, whereas synthetic oil can last up to six times longer.  Only the filter has to be changed over this period of time.  Even though synthetic oil is much more expensive, it's worth the extra cost if you value the life and performance of your engine.  

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Cause and Effect

Cause and effect:

  • explains the reasons (causes) why something happened

  • describes the results (effects) of an event, action, or condition

There are many times when you are asked to examine a cause and effect relationship.  When we visit a doctor, the doctor usually questions us carefully to determine the cause of our illness.  Causes are the reasons that something happened; the causes of pollution, divorce, heart disease, anorexia, etc., can be identified and presented so that the reader gains a better knowledge of how the causes brought about certain results.  Similarly, when we think of effects, we often think of benefits or advantages such as the benefits of exercise or the advantages of self-employment.  Or we could look at the negative effects of a cause such as divorce, alcoholism, or global warming. 

Generally, in a paragraph or short essay, it is better to deal with either causes or effects.  Before you start writing, you should be clear on whether you will be dealing mostly with causes or effects.  We often examine causes so that we can learn how to prevent things from happening again.  Researchers look at causes of heart disease so that they can educate people on how to avoid behaviours such as high fat diets and sedentary lifestyles that contribute to heart disease.  We may focus on effects to convince someone that something—becoming a vegetarian for example—is a good idea because of the health benefits.  

In a paragraph focusing on effects you should clearly indicate the cause—an earthquake, for example—and then spend the rest of the paragraph detailing and explaining the specific effects. these might include damage to buildings, injuries to people, and mass psychological trauma.  In a paragraph focusing on cause, state the effect (or result) in your opening and then go on to explain why this result came about.  For example, in a paragraph on divorce or marriage breakdown you might look at causes such as incompatibility, infidelity, substance abuse, and neglect among others.  


Sample Cause and Effect Paragraph:

Focus on the Cause  


The Misuse of Credit Cards


While credit cards are convenient and easy to use, the misuse of credit cards can lead to serious problems.  Today, many consumers are spending beyond their ability to pay.  This often leads to serious financial difficulties or even personal bankruptcy.  One of the reasons for consumer over-spending is aggressive promotion by credit card companies.  Fancy commercials and advertisements are everywhere and they create the image that using credit cards is easy and trendy and gives people class.  They offer tempting low introductory rates and other benefits.  Instead of worrying about payment with high interest rates, card users tend to get carried away and find immediate satisfaction in fulfilling their desires.  Incredibly, many people seem unaware that credit cards are not free; people may not feel like they are spending money, but they are creating debts that have to be paid.  They often lose track of how much they are spending.  And they don't realize how quickly many little purchases can add up until they receive their next credit card bill.  To avoid problems with credit card debt, people need to become educated in personal financial management.  Unfortunately, this kind of information isn't as easily available to consumers as credit card advertisements that promote the freedom and benefits of credit card use.  


Sample Cause and Effect Paragraph:

Focus on the Effects  


How Drugs Can Destroy People's Lives


Drug addiction is a serious health issue that affects addicts, their families and society. First of all, drug addiction has severe physical effects on the addict's body.  Drug users can experience many physical symptoms including sickness, fevers, sweats and shakes, loss of appetite, and weight loss.  They also face the danger of contracting serious diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases, not to mention the risk of overdose.  Families and friends of drug addicts are inevitably also affected by their addiction. Addiction can lead to serious financial problems, loss of trust, and eventually family breakup and divorce.  Society as well pays a cost: crime rates go up, and more security and hospital care is needed which are all paid for by taxpayers.  Drug addiction is a destructive way to live. Maybe more would be done about it if it were looked at not just as a problem that addicts face alone, but as something that affects society as a whole.  

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Example (also called Illustration)

An example paragraph or essay:

  • makes a point about a topic by providing examples to support it

An article about growing violence in kids' sports might include several examples which illustrate how violence has gotten out of hand in some situations.  An essay about the dangers of drinking and driving could be made stronger by including several examples of the results of drinking and driving.    


Sample Illustration Paragraph


Plastic People


Today, men and women of all ages undergo surgery to achieve the looks they desire.  Cosmetic surgery is so common that to some it is a lifestyle.  Some of the most popular procedures are breast implants, liposuction, facelifts, and hair transplants. Because many prefer fuller, bigger breasts, a good number of women from all walks of life undergo the painful and costly procedure of breast implants.  Even though the risks are well known, many still take their chances.  And what goes better with bigger breasts than a flat abdomen?  Liposuction is a quick fix for those who find good diet and exercise ineffective and time consuming.  Another popular procedure for both men and women is the surgical facelift.  This process promises men and women a younger and fresher look. For men who are worried about baldness, there is hair replacement.  Thanks to medical advances, men can avoid the harsh reality of balding by undergoing a long lasting hair transplant procedure.  Many value plastic surgery even though it's costly and can have a number of negative side effects.  In spite of the many plastic surgery disasters, those obsessed with having the perfect face and body will keep the business alive and well.  

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 Description

  A descriptive paragraph or essay:

  •   Desribes a person, thing, place or situation.

Unlike a narrative writing, descriptive writing does not tell a story but rather tries to convey a clear impression of what something is like.  Effective descriptive writing relies on specific words and phrases that create a clear picture in the reader's mind. Describing a house as unusual looking doesn't help the reader visualize the house.  However, if you note the lime green paint and fake Greek columns, the reader will start to form a mental picture. 

Avoid words like interesting, nice, great, etc. which reveal nothing about the real nature of the topic.  Look for specific words to describe sights, sounds, smells and both physical and emotional feelings.  Try to make your reader see and feel the object or situation you are describing.  Compare these two sentences:

Music came from the car as it drove by.   

Full volume Led Zepplin screamed from the old Camaro as it sped by.

The second version provides specific details about the music and the car that help the reader picture the scene more clearly.

Look for a pattern to help you organize your description.  When describing a room you might talk about the size and shape of the room, and then about the furniture, and then about the possessions of the occupant. When describing people you could look at their dress, their general body type, and their facial features.  In a descriptive essay about a person you might deal with personality, physical features, and lifestyle as a way of organizing your ideas.

When brainstorming or making a list for descriptive writing, look at your list of points and try to find ways to make them more specific. 

For example: A pile of junk becomes a pile of worn out shoes, broken tennis rackets and cracked ski goggles.  


Sample Description Paragraph


My First Apartment


My first apartment was a third floor walk-up on a busy street in downtown Vancouver.  The building was a faded brown characterless box.  My apartment was down a dimly-lit narrow hallway covered in worn fifties style dark green carpeting. When I say apartment, I really mean room, because there was just one small square room with a tiny bathroom.  The air was humid and musty.  One small window provided a perfect view of the brown stucco wall of the building next door. A small "avocado" coloured stove and fridge highlighted the kitchen which consisted of a few shabby painted wood cupboards that projected into the room. Along one wall was an older pale blue sofa, which was also my bed. A small red card table with two chairs served as my kitchen and dining room table.  A few feet away, several large cardboard moving boxes contained all of my clothes and personal possessions. The one bright spot was a large poster of a winter mountain scene which I had hung on the dull gray wall. It helped me survive the eight months I called this dump home.  

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 Persuasion (also called Argument)

A persuasive paragraph:

  • tries to persuade the reader to accept your point of view or even to change his or her point of view

In persuasive writing you take a clear position and then present evidence to support your position.  If, for example, you believe that the penalties for drinking and driving are too light, then your basic organization might look something like this:  

Topic: Penalties for drinking and driving are too light  

Points to support your argument:

  • people should be responsible for their actions when they drink

  • cars are weapons in the hands of a drunk driver—drunk driving is a form of assault

  • all situations involving drunk drivers have the potential for serious consequences

  • drunk drivers responsible for most accidents

  • drunk drivers often get a slap on the wrist while victims suffer for a long time

  • stiff penalties would reduce drunk driving

  • other drivers pay through increased insurance costs


Sample Persuasive Paragraph  


Time to Get Tough with Drunk Drivers


It's time for the courts to crack down on drunk drivers.  Often even repeat offenders get small fines when caught driving with alcohol levels above the legal limit. But, drunk driving is a serious crime and should be treated as such. Drunk drivers cause most serious accidents, but all situations involving drunk drivers have the potential for serious consequences. Drunk drivers threaten the safety of everyone on the road; cars are weapons, and drunk driving is a form of assault.  People should be responsible for their actions, and if they choose to drink and drive then they should pay the price. Often the victims of accidents caused by drunk drivers suffer long after these drivers have "paid their debt to society".  The law should be changed so that all cases of drinking and driving would result in jail time and vehicles would be confiscated.  Then perhaps more people would think twice about drinking and driving.  

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Methods of Developing Paragraphs and Essays: 

A Quick Reference

Before you begin writing think about your purpose.  Are you trying to explain how an accident happened, give someone tips on how to buy a used car, point out the differences between two friends, or argue for stronger penalties for impaired drivers?  Consider which method of development is best for making your points. The methods of development listed below provide approaches to help you arrange your ideas clearly.  

Purpose

Method of Development  

Writing Tips 

  • To entertain or amuse

  • To tell how something happened  

Narrative

  • Begin with a clear idea of what the main point of

  • your story is

  • Provide clear descriptive details of character and

  • setting to help the reader visualize the events

  • Stick with your main story line

  • Relate the events in the order they happened

  • (chronological order)  

  • provide instructions for doing something

  • explain how something works  

 

Process  

  • Your topic sentence or thesis should make it clear what you are going to explain. Example: Finding a good used car involves researching different models, knowing where to find good vehicles, and getting a thorough mechanical inspection

  • Present steps in logical or chronological order

  • Use a variety of transitions to move smoothly between points.  

  • give reasons why something happened

  • Show the results of some event or actions  

 

Cause and

Effect  

 

  • Decide whether you are going to deal with cause or effect and make this clear in your introduction

  • If you are explaining why something happened or the reasons for you are looking at the causes

  • If you are looking at the results of some action or event, then you are focusing on effects  

  • To show the differences and similarities between two things  

 

Compare and

Contrast  

 

  • Decide on a pattern to use to make your comparison: point-by-point or subject-by-subject (block) method

  • Choose two things that you can reasonably compare: e.g., professional and amateur sports not boxing and lawn bowling

  • Make sure the comparison offers a unique slant on the differences or similarities.   

Purpose

Method of Development  

Writing Tips 

  • To explain something by dividing it into types, groups, or categories  

 

Classification  

  • Make sure the categories you are grouping are of roughly equal value.  For Example:

  • Types of athletes: pros, competitive amateurs, recreational, armchair

  • To explain the characteristics or qualities of something  

 

Division  

  • Look for the qualities that something is made up of.

  • Think of the qualities your ideal of something—a great athlete, city, leader, teacher, etc.—would have. For Example: A great restaurant will have delicious food, a distinct atmosphere and professional service  

  • Use examples to support the point you are making about your topic  

 

Illustration/

example  

 

  • Back up your point with specific examples or situations that illustrate or provide evidence for your topic sentence or thesis

  • Example: Although the US is an economic giant, Japan is still the world leader in automobiles, consumer electronics, and robotics.

  • To create a clear impression in the reader's mind of a person, place, object, or situation.  

 

Description  

  • Try to give the reader a clear impression of the person, place, thing, or situation you are describing.

  • Appeal to the senses—consider how something looks, smells, tastes, feels, and sounds.  

  • To argue for or against an idea  

 

Persuasion 

or

Argument  

 

  • Decide on your approach: Make your position clear at the beginning and then spend the rest of the paragraph or essay providing support for your position.

  • Recognize the other side of the argument, then strike it down. e.g., Sure professional athletes are skilled and talented, but why should a second rate defenseman earn more than a brain surgeon?  

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