Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The arrangement of sentences in a paragraph

Order of Sentences in a Paragraph

Classic Advice on the construction of a paragraph ...

§ 365. III. The arrangement of sentences in a paragraph.* 

In every extended paragraph the bearing of every sentence upon what precedes should be explicit and unmistakable.

This is principally effected by the use of conjunctions and contextual phrases, the rules for which will be given in the next division of the chapter.

§ 366. When several consecutive sentences develop or illustrate the same idea, they should, as far as possible, be formed alike. This is called the rule of Parallel Construction.

§ 367. The opening sentence of a paragraph, unless obviously preparatory, should indicate with some prominence the topic of the paragraph.

§ 368. In the course of the paragraph there should occur no dislocations, that is, sudden turns of thought, such as would create confusion. But the entire paragraph should possess unity, having a definite purpose, and avoiding all digressions and irrelevant matter.

§ 369. Every paragraph should possess such a degree of unity as to be capable of being indicated by a caption or running title.

§ 370. Due proportion should obtain between principal and subordinate statements.

* The remarks under this head are condensed from Alexander Bain.

SOURCE: John Mitchell Bonnell, A Manual of the Art of Prose Composition: For the Use of Colleges and Schools (1867).

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(Quibble Academic, 2013)

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