The Anatomy of a Strong Body Paragraph


The Anatomy of a Strong Body Paragraph

  1. An interesting and clear topic sentence which reinforces your thesis without directly repeating your thesis

To create an attention grabbing topic sentence, try one of the following strategies adopted from Chris Juzwiak’s book Touchstones.

  • Create a contrast
  • Identify the major issues you’ll discuss in your paragraph
  • Use creative language or ideas
  1. While in a perfect world we view school as a place of learning, authority questioning, and idea generating, the reality is that teachers can be mind-numbingly dull, sarcastic, and cruel.  Victor Frankenstein experiences both types of teachers in the novel Frankenstein
  2. Developing an operational definition of the term “human” is imperative to understanding the novel Frankenstein.
  3. Bad things happen in cities in the novel Frankenstein suggesting that Shelley is making an argument about the wholesomeness of the country vs. the sins of the city.

2. Interesting and relevant evidence in the form of quotations, strings of short quotations, summaries, and summaries with short quotations.  A strong body paragraph should have approximately three primary pieces of evidenceFor your essay I recommend having 3 or more strong pieces of evidence for each body paragraph in your essay.

  • Vary the types of evidence you use in your essays
  • A short quotation with a lead in phrase
  • A string of short quotations with a lead in phrase 
  • A short summary with a lead in phrase (keep it clean; don’t add any commentary to your summaries)
  • A short summary with short quotations embedded within it and a lead in phrase
  • (keep it clean; don’t add any commentary to your summaries)
  • Quote with lead-in phrase:
  • Frankenstein makes a snap judgement that the creature he created is a “catastrophe” (45).
  • String of short quotes with lead in phrase:
  • The creature is described as having a face of “horrid contrasts,” and as “malignant” and a “wretch” by his creator (45, 89, 89).
  • Summary with lead-in phrase:
  • Frankenstein relies on Clerval to care for him after he creates the creature and falls into a feverish sickness. Clerval nurses him back to health for several months before Frankenstein is well enough to hear any news of his family (49-51).
  • Summary with short quotes and lead-in phrase:
  • Frankenstein describes the steps he takes to create Frankenstein in a dark and sinister way. He uses body parts he buys illegally to create what he soon learns is a “catastrophe” (45).
  1. Commentary, interpretations, and arguments about the evidence you include in your body paragraph

Strategies for commenting on evidence:  

     Elaborate on other dimensions of a key issue in the evidence 

  • Although Frankenstein does not say so directly, he apparently assumes that_______________.

     Provide additional specific examples to illustrate a point in the evidence

     Give advice related to the evidence

  • This evidence makes it clear that Frankenstein must be a villain ____________ because….
  • Whatever our disagreements about the details of the situation may be, I’m sure that most readers will agree that ____________.

     Agree or disagree with the opinions stated in the evidence

  • This evidence is problematic because__________
  • Shelley makes a compelling point because__________
  • While some critics may disagree with Frankenstein’s argument because_________, here I find myself agreeing with Shelley because__________
  • When it comes to the topic of ___________, most people will readily agree that_____________. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of______________.
  • As I suggested earlier, defenders of ____________ can’t have it both ways. Their assertion that ____________ is contradicted by ____________.

Make an ethical judgment about the evidence (is your evidence persuasive or          not?)

  • This is a clear example of a hasty generalization because…
  • The Frankenstein is guilty of the slippery slope fallacy because….
  • Although the speaker in this quote is guilty of setting up a straw man argument, I still agree with his main point that__________because___________

     Compare the evidence to a relevant world event

  • This instance of ___________ is strikingly similar to _____________….
  • As I read this evidence I found myself thinking of _____________ because ____________. Indeed, both situations are quite similar…

Dos and Don’ts for Thesis Statements

Do not announce what you will talk about in your essay in your thesis.  Don’t do what’s in the following example:  In this essay I will discuss ways to quit smoking.

Do not ask a question in your thesis.  Don’t do what is in the following example:  Will we ever know the most clear cause of prison violence? 

Do not  settle for your thesis statement to merely identify the major support points in your essay.  This is something that you might have done in other previous classes.  In my class, I want you to have the courage to try something different and more interesting.  The following example is not a very interesting thesis statement.    Example:  A successful party involves good food, great music, and lots of friends.

Do create a contrast in your thesis (see templates below).  Example, Although turning the vacant lot on California Avenue would involve a significant amount of time and effort, the park would yield many benefits to our city for years to come.

Do use creative and vivid language.  Don’t settle for blah vocabulary words. Example:  Glendale is plagued with vacant lots which stymie our city’s reputation as the “jewel city.”  To beautify the city we must convert these derelict eyesores into spaces of beauty and pleasure: recreational facilities such as parks and picnic areas.

Do use English 104 to try something new; I know you can write a decent thesis statement or you wouldn’t be in this class.  Use our course as a chance to try out some different ideas about how to write an effective argument. 

Ideas for Building Strong Thesis Statements

On the one hand critics of Frankenstein argue ____________________, on the other, some argue _______________.In my research I analyze____________________in order to determine______________________.

The conclusion of Frankenstein suggest ____________________.  But a close analysis shows__________X______________.  Although_______X_______ may seem trivial, it matters because _______________________.

My first impression of the text/character(s) was that ______________________.  Now, however, having ________________ I have come to see _____________________.

The evidence from the text shows that _________________________.  This matters/is important because _____________________.

Ultimately we can determine that X  and Y  (and Z, if you have a Z) are similar in the following ways ________________.  These similarities are significant because _____________________________.

After analyzing the book Frankenstein, it is clear that X and Y (and Z if you have a Z) are different in the following ways________________.  These differences are significant because ___________________________________.

Despite the fact that X and Y (and Z, if there’s a Z) are similar, they are also significantly different.  For example, while X___________,Y________________ (and Z__________).  These similarities and differences are significant because _______________________________.

My argument is that ____________________.  This is significant because______________________.


The Anatomy of a Strong Body Paragraph

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