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A few structured strategies that we can use to craft paragraphs

Reviewing my students’ theses, and talking with them about their writing processes, they always tell me that they find crafting and constructing paragraphs very challenging. This is not unusual. Sentences and paragraphs form the core of our writing and each of them is, for many of us, beautiful and unique. Therefore, it is important that we develop strategies and heuristics to write those sentences and craft those paragraphs.

Library Cubicles at El Colegio de Mexico

I wrote a Twitter thread that forms the basis for this post, showcasing several frameworks to build paragraphs.

Articles and book chapters that are rich with theoretical constructs and powerful ideas are usually too important for me to skim or to just do a quick AIC content extraction, so I really engage with them in depth.

The more I read and write about academic writing, the more I realize that for me, the paragraph is the key unit of analysis in academic writing.

As I discuss below, I use the process of constructing paragraphs as a framework to think about how I plan my writing and research time, and how I set my work-related goals.

As I always do, I look for other scholars’ strategies to help guide my readers. This approach allows them to decide if using MY techniques suits them or if another academic’s strategy works better for them. Below are a few links to some members of my community of scholars who write about academic writing, people I respect a lot.


Now, which other models do we have to help us craft paragraphs? I think this is where the whole “rhetorical moves” elements of academic writing is useful.

We need to consider two components:

1) the STRUCTURE of the paragraph


2) the CONTENT of the paragraph.

You can use any of the models I have mentioned before (Cayley, Thomson, Pacheco-Vega, Hayot, Dunleavy) to structure your paragraph. And THEN to fill up the paragraph you need to provide content organized in a sequence that provides evidence, argument, etc. That is, make it “argumentative”.

You may want to test the above mentioned strategies to STRUCTURE and then provide CONTENT for your paragraph. As for my work-planning strategy, in the end, my writing target goal is always A PARAGRAPH. Nothing more because otherwise I get stressed.

In this post, I’ve provided a few different strategies to STRUCTURE and develop the argument that will form the CONTENT of your paragraph. Hopefully my readers will find this approach will be useful.

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