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Narrative, descriptive and expository are all styles of paragraphs. During classes, you most likely learned that there are three different types or styles of paragraphs. It is a good time to revisit what you learned as you will soon have to draw upon that knowledge in order to start creating many of your own written pieces of work.
The three different types or styles of paragraphs include the following: the narrative, the descriptive and the expository.
A narrative paragraph will tell the reader about an event or scene.
A descriptive paragraph will try to create (through the use of words) a vivid image by providing very detailed descriptions on one subject.
An expository paragraph just simply gives the reader basic information.
Whether you are writing a narrative, a descriptive or an expository paragraph, each of those paragraphs should contain three parts, i.e., a topic, supporting information to address the topic and a concluding sentence to reinforce or clarify the topic.
Topic: A writer’s first and perhaps most important goal is to grab a reader’s attention at the very beginning to the point that the reader wants to read more. Because the goal is to capture the reader’s attention, the first or opening sentence of any paragraph is critical. That first sentence must alert the reader as to what information they will learn about. For example, let’s look at the following topic sentence:
Would you like to know how you can get a college degree without ever attending college?
With this topic sentence the reader immediately knows the writer is going to talk about getting a college degree without ever having to attend college. What middle-school and/or high-school student wouldn’t want to know how to do that? In fact, what parent wouldn’t want to know how to do that? So right away the reader’s attention has been grabbed. The reader is probably thinking, “How do you do that?”
Supporting information: After you have captured your reader with an amazing opening line, you have to keep them going by now supporting what you told them you would do. To do this, the body of the paragraph needs to provide solid, documented supporting information. The supporting information is the meat and potatoes of your writing. It is there to fuel the interest of the reader to make your supporting material plentiful without overstuffing the reader with too much information. For example, let’s look at the following sentences that would come after our introductory sentence mentioned above:
Let’s face it, not everyone can afford to go to college. If you are fortunate enough to attend, who wants to graduate with a mountain of debt that will take you 20 to 30 years to pay off? Not me, that’s for sure. So that piqued my interest. I wanted to see if it was at all possible to get a degree without ever having to step foot onto a college campus or into a college classroom. What I learned was astounding and I bet many colleges don’t want you to ever know about these methods. I have done two solid years of study and talked with countless professors, educational boards and many Presidents and CEOs of a conglomerate of companies. I learned that it is not only possible to get a degree – but you can get that degree for free!
The supporting sentences tell the reader that the writer did some research on how to get a college degree without having to attend college. It tells the reader that there is more than one method to getting a degree and, perhaps most importantly, that you can get that degree for free! With the supporting information given, the reader is most likely interested, if not even more so, and that will keep them reading on.
The final sentence of a paragraph is the concluding sentence. It can either sum up the entire paragraph by making the point of the topic or it can lead the reader onward to the next paragraph. Let’s look at the following concluding sentence to our paragraph above:
Sounds impossible, I know, but after you finish reading this book you will become a true believer and you’ll wonder why anyone is paying for a college degree.
This concluding sentence refers back to the topic, i.e., getting a college degree. It then directs the reader to read the book to become a believer in being able to get a college degree for free. With this concluding sentence, our paragraph is now complete.
Beware of the run-on sentence! What is a run-on sentence? It is a sentence that has two or more independent clauses or, in other words, it contains two or more complete sentences that can stand on their own. However, the clauses are not properly joined together with an appropriate punctuation or conjunction. This does not mean that because a sentence is exceptionally long that it is a “run-on” sentence. A run-on sentence MUST contain at least two clauses improperly joined. As long as the clauses are properly joined, the sentence, though long, is not a run-on. Below are two examples of run-on sentences:
Grace went to the store she bought an outfit that was too small she thinks she is smaller than she is she will have to return it and get the proper size.
Stanley drove Penelope walked.
In the first sentence there are several clauses. They include: “Grace went to the store,” “She bought an outfit that was too small,” “She thinks she is smaller than she is,” and “She will have to return it and get the proper size.” As you can see, there are four clauses or separate independent sentences. There are no punctuation marks or conjunctions used anywhere to join these sentences so this is a clear run-on sentence. To make it a proper sentence it would have to read:
Grace went to the store where she bought an outfit that was too small because she thinks she is smaller than she is and she will have to return it and get the proper size.
In the second sentence we have two independent clauses, i.e., “Stanley drove” and “Penelope walked.” Even though this is a very short sentence, the two clauses are not properly linked. Because they are not properly linked, it is a run-on sentence. To make it a proper sentence it would have to read:
Stanley drove and Penelope walked.