Writing Tips – How to Organise Paragraphs

Writing a good composition for PSLE English examinations requires inspiration, technique and the desire to improve on every new composition or draft written.
All three elements are crucial ingredients for writing an excellent composition. In order to develop inspiring plots, Cognitus Academy writing coaches always encourage students to read widely; fiction, news and biographies are excellent sources of inspiration. The desire to write and improve on every draft is the most significant reason behind a brilliant composition. Students who aim simply to finish a writing assignment shoddily will often get what they set out to do – write a mediocre composition, good enough to pass but utterly pedestrian. We want our students to aim high, and it must come from within themselves. However, inspiration and desire alone will not be sufficient.
Good writers also need good technique. In this post, I will share one of the most ignored, but easiest skills to master – paragraphing. There are at least 7 instances where a new paragraph is required.
  1. When a new character is introduced in the story, a new paragraph is required. This is often done if the new character plays a significant part of the story. Starting a new paragraph when a new character comes on the scene brings attention to this character.
  2. When a new event occurs, a new paragraph is needed. This marks a break in the previous event and signals to the reader that a new scene has unfolded.
  3. When the setting of the story changes, it is time to start a new paragraph. Very often, characters of a story move from location to location, place to place. The reader needs to get a sense of the sight, smell and sounds of the new setting. Being able to start a fresh paragraph helps readers identify a new location.
  4. Sometimes a new idea is introduced and require a new paragraph. This occurs more often for non-fiction texts than fiction.
  5. When writing dialogues, students are often confused about paragraphing. When a new person speaks, a new paragraph is needed. Although this rule has been around for a long time (just check the novel that you are reading right now), students are still very uncertain with proper paragraphing in dialogues. Some students fear that their compositions will end up with too many paragraphs that are too short. Actually, that usually means that they have used too much dialogue, and should not do that in the first place. So, to summarise, start a new paragraph when a new person speaks.
  6. When time moves forward, start a new paragraph. This rule comes naturally because students have been exposed to this rule since lower Primary.
  7. Another reason to start a new paragraph is when time moves backwards. That means, a writer wants to recall a past memory and signals that with: ‘last week’.
These reasons will help students decide when to start a new paragraph in their compositions and a well-organised composition will earn higher marks for the Language and Organisation component in Continuous Writing. I hope that these tips will help your child with the PSLE or school English examination.
We offer Writing Programmes for students who wish to learn valuable writing techniques and sharpen the writing skills that they have.
Some of our students’ compositions are also featured on our Cognitus Blog! Do check them out and look forward to more from us.

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