Chapter 25: Writing a Paragraph: Focus on Support and Details
In this chapter you will study the importance of being specific in the details you use to support an idea. When you write in vague, general terms, you leave the reader to interpret what you mean and often the reader will not have enough information to accurately do that. You must be clear in your meaning so that anyone who reads your work understands exactly what you want him to understand.
It is equally important that you provide enough information to support your ideas. Generally you need 3 to 5 examples per idea to be sure you've given sufficient support. The best way to develop support is to ask yourself questions about your ideas. You can evaluate the support at each stage of the writing process. Much of the work that you do in the rough lines editing is evaluating support and asking questions to be sure you have said enough to clearly communicate your ideas to your audience.
Once you have gathered together as many details as you think you need, you then organize them with a rough outline. This gives you another opportunity to check for sufficient support. Does each section of the outline seem developed? Is there more than one detail for each section? Have you used specific rather than general words as you've outlined? At this point you double-check the topic sentence to be sure it covers all your details. Always remember that the more details you put in the outline the more details will make it into your paragraph.
If you are at a loss for details, try turning to your senses. Asking questions about how something looks, feels, tastes, smells, and sounds can provide you with plenty of details. When you are describing an event ask questions like who, what, when, where, how, and why. Read the lecture below for further information on developing support and details for your writing.