Paragraph development

In what ways can you develop your argument in the paragraphs? In academic writing, the writer must decide on the best way to present the information or the argument. Several approaches will be outlined here although, in practice, the approaches may overlap to some degree.

1. The paragraph might take the form of a comparison and/or contrast between two different systems or theories. For example, you may be comparing two views on a particular play or contrasting two political views.

2. Your paragraph could take on the form of an extendeddefinition. For example, you may want to explain in detail what is meant by role modelling in an essay on the educational environment.

3. Your paragraph may take the form of a cause/effect analysis; for example, you may be analysing the causes and results of a particular event in history.

Look at the three paragraphs below, and decide which method of development the writer is using. Underline the topic sentence, and highlight the topic point and specific detail.


It’s an old cliché that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we see evidence of it everywhere we look. There is little doubt that people interpret beauty in many different ways. An archaeologist will see beauty in a bone or a fragment of stone while others will see only a fragment of matter. A scientist will see beauty in a formula or a chemical reaction while others will turn away in confusion or disgust. A dog breeder will see beauty in a particular breed of dog while their neighbour will see only a drawling, smelly beast busy fouling the roadways given half a chance. A businessman may see beauty in healthy bank statement. For me, beauty does not reside in matter or other living beings, but in music. A violin being played by a talented musician can easily reduce me to tears by the sheer beauty of the sound. Beauty is not something you can touch, but something ethereal and beyond our reach. However, for me, beauty does not reside in music alone.

A basic truth

Despite all the debate and the anguish, the revelations and the confessions, the assertive women and the new men, many women are now reluctantly being forced to draw the same conclusion: the chips are still stacked against women, and men haven’t changed. Even this week a report appeared confirming what many of us have known for some time, which is that women earn a lot less than men in the course of their working lives. In fact, the women who lose out the most are the intelligent ones with a bunch of GCSE passes but without a degree. They earn around a quarter of a million pounds a year less in their working lives then men doing the same job. At a more personal relationship level, men continue to want to control and lead. They are happy to make the odd gesture with the house or the children, but fundamentally they want the women to take responsibility for the time honoured home-based tasks while they continue to go out and earn the major income. It gives them a sense of worth and a meaning to their lives, poor things. It’s quite a basic truth really; how many women have you see on the front of a Yamaha 850 with a man clinging on behind? They might do it once, for a laugh, but at the end of the day, the man wants to be sitting up front with the controls in his hands. Some people say that women who can’t see this are battling against a fundamental truth of evolution. However, despite the prevalence of these attitudes, change is on the way.


When I first visited Marangu in 1977, it was a small, sleepy village about 3,000 ft up the side of Mount Kilimanjaro. A narrow road wound up from the valley floor, passing through maize fields, then banana plantations, then banana and coffee plantations and finally a mixture of eucalyptus trees and pine trees mixed in with the bananas and coffee. It was cool and lovely. Despite the fact that the village itself was small, there were two hotels and a training college. The hotels were there because Marangu was the starting point for most of the tourists who wanted to climb the mountain. The college was there because the region had maintained a tradition of education for over a 100 years or more and the college was merely one reflection of that fact. Today, in many ways, Marangu has changed very little, although changes have certainly taken place. The road has been rebuilt and now it’s wider and the traffic travels up and down faster and more dangerously than it should. There are more houses too, some of the small and simple and some of them inappropriately grandiose. The hotels are still there, unchanged apart from rewiring and repainting. The college is completely unchanged in almost every respect, and even some of the same staff members are still teaching there. One has been there since 1965 after completing his teacher training in the college. It’s a beautiful college and I can still stand on the steps at the back of the main building and, on a good day, see the snow covered peak of Kilimanjaro. It brings back some striking memories.


Beauty – extended definition

A basic truth – contrast

Marangu – comparison