Literary Paragraphs – The Basics What is a literary paragraph? A literary paragraph is a paragraph about literature. Usually a literary paragraph is written in response to questions or instructions such as: What is the theme in this story? How did the main character’s actions influence the outcome of the story? Describe the changes that a character went through. What is the form of a literary paragraph? A good literary paragraph will have at least 5 sentences: Topic Sentence (first sentence): This is your main idea. Answer the question that the paragraph is supposed to respond to. Include the name of the book/story/poem/play and its author in the topic sentence. Do NOT start your topic sentence with statements like “I think..”, “I chose…”, “I am going to talk about…” Examples: In “The Stone” by Lloyd Alexander the character Maibon learns an important lesson that changes his attitude about growing older. In “Stray” by Cynthia Rylant, the dog surprises Doris’s parents by behaving well and being easy to care for. Supporting Sentences: Give examples from the story that support or prove your main idea. Be specific. For example, if the purpose of the paragraph is to describe a character and your topic sentence states that the character is selfish, then you will think of examples from the story (the character’s actions, words, or thoughts) that prove that he is selfish. If the purpose of the paragraph is to explain the theme of the story, then your examples will be parts of the story that show the reader what the theme is. Make sure to show how your examples connect to your main idea. You must include supporting integrated quotations. Clincher Sentence (last sentence): The clincher restates the main idea and concludes the paragraph. Show that your supporting details do prove your main idea. Often you can start the clincher with phrases like: “As these examples demonstrate…” Do not include new information or your opinion (unless the question specifically asks for your opinion). How do I write a literary paragraph? Step 1: Make sure you understand the question or instructions for the paragraph. Step 2: Answer the question briefly. This answer will be the topic sentence/main idea of the paragraph. Step 3: Brainstorm examples from the story that will support your main idea. Step 4: Choose the 3 examples from the story that best support or prove your main idea. These will be the supporting details that you include in your supporting sentences. Step 5: Draft your paragraph. Make sure it has a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a clincher sentence. Step 6: Revise your paragraph. Did you answer the question? Is your main idea clear? Do your examples support your main idea? Does your clincher restate your main idea? Step 7: Proofread your paragraph. Look for and correct: fragments, run-ons, and stringy sentences punctuation and capitalization incorrect spelling use of “I”, “me”, “my”, “we”, “our”, “you”, “your” overly general or ambiguous pronouns verbs in the wrong tense or that don’t match their subjects Do’s and Don’ts of Literary Paragraph Language 1. Do write the verbs in the present tense. Example: In The Tale of Despereaux the mouse saves the princess. 2. Do use specific language. Avoid overly general words such as “nice”, “good”, “bad”, “weird”, “etc.” 3. Do not use the pronouns “I”, “me”, “my”, “we”, and “our”.Trea t your ideas about the story as facts. You should not introduce your ideas with “I think…” or “In my opinion…” 4. Do not use the general “you.” You can use words like “one”, “a person”, or “someone” 5. Do not use informal and SMS language such as “like”, “guy”, “u”, “gonna”, “cuz”, “till”, “wanna”, and other slang. 6. Do not write as if you are talking to someone. This is formal writing. 7. Do not use abbreviations like “Ex:”.Write “An example of this is…” or “For example…”.