In this section, we are going to look at writing as an important skill in the communication process. Principally, we shall define writing and its importance in communication, discuss the paragraph as a key component in writing, then how to plan your essay and finally discuss the various types of essays that you will need to use in your writing.
Objectives of the topic
At the end of this topic, you should be able to: a) Define writing and explain its importance in communication b) Discuss the characteristics of a paragraph as an important component of writing c) Plan an academic essay d) Identify and explain the various types of essays e) Demonstrate understanding of referencing and documentation techniques in academic writing
Definition and importance of writing
Writing is expression of language in form of symbols (letters, words and sentences) on a surface. The primary purpose of writing is communication. Writing is a life-long skill that when used clearly can help you express ideas convincingly to others and can determine your success at the university and professional life. Writing takes different forms. It may be in the form of a single paragraph, an essay, a short paper, a report, a letter, a memo e.t.c. Whatever the form of writing, effective writing involves the proper use of words, sentences, punctuations and paragraphs to pass across messages. In most of the writing you will engage in at the university, the paragraph constitutes a very important building block.
Paragraph Writing Paragraphs are important building blocks in the writing of essays. A paragraph usually contains one main idea captured in a sentence, with about four to eight supporting sentences which expand the main idea by giving explanation, details and/or examples to support the main idea of the paragraph. The length of a paragraph may vary from one form of writing to another or by the idea one is expounding on. A paragraph can be part of a longer piece of writing, as it is in an essay, or it can stand alone as in an exam answer. Writing a paragraph is not a natural skill, but learned skill. A paragraph is unified by a single main idea. There is no one correct structure of writing a paragraph, however, a useful structure to have in mind is that it should have three main components, namely: a) Topic/thesis Sentence: this is the first sentence and it expresses the main idea that unifies the paragraph. b) Supporting Sentences: these sentences present details, facts and examples that expand on or illustrate the main idea. c) Concluding Sentence: this sums up the paragraph’s main idea or what has been said. Alternatively, it draws a logical conclusion from the main idea. A good paragraph therefore must reveal its main idea in a prominent statement called topic/thesis sentence. The prominent idea is usually presented at the beginning of the paragraph such that other statements that follow support the main idea. A paragraph must convey thoughts that are connected together by logical associations and signal words, that is, there must be a clear connection between the sentences which constitute a paragraph. Signal words or transitional phrases that indicate connection between sentences include connectors of various kinds, such as: a) Connectors of sequence: afterward, as soon as, before, first, second…, finally, later, next etc, as well as, firstly, next, then, finally, so thus, as a result, because, therefore, for example, for instance, in contrast, on the other hand etc. b) Connectors of addition: also, and, another, besides, furthermore, moreover, likewise etc
c) Connectors of contrast: but, even if, even so, however, despite, instead, nevertheless, on the contrary, on the other hand etc d) Connectors of result: as a result, consequently, accordingly, therefore, hence, thus etc e) Connectors of illustration: for example, for instance, for this reason, that...