Writing Coherent Papers

by             Joseph Siry, Ph.D.


Frequently the following step process has a three or four-fold payoff that can improve papers!

Take the final draft stage of your paper to do the following assignment:

            1, Identify and underline your thesis statement.

            2, Pick out your best paragraph and explain what it means in one sentence.

            3, Put an “E” in the left margin outside, but beside every sentence
            that has factual evidence to support the contention of the essay’s paragraphs.


A. For every PARAGRAPH you have in the paper write one very finely crafted SENTENCE that sums up the point of the paragraph.

            1.   PARAGRAPH [ ¶ ] = SENTENCE

If you can’t do this in a sentence, your paragraph may be:

            1.1) too long,

            1.2) without focus,

            1.3) too short,

            1.4) too confused or badly written.

So revise the paragraph.

            2.  Read through each sentence to make sure that one sentence leads freely, or smoothly to the next sentence,                    and that subsequent sentences flow easily from each of their previous sentences.

            3.  Rewrite any awkward sentences or phrases that don’t relate to the rest of the paper.


B.                               1.  If the sentences don’t flow, chances are that you have a TRANSITION problem from one paragraph to another.  Check to be certain that the problem is not in your sentence. If the problem is that the PARAGRAPH does not lead to another, CORRECT IT, before submission!

                        2.  Take your five best sentences from beginning to the end, making sure they reveal the overview of the paper’s themes. Redraft these sentences into an opening PARAGRAPH and you have an INTRODUCTION!

                        3.  Use the best remaining sentences that cover the main points of your paper and use them in a PARAGRAPH. Rewrite the paragraph as your CONCLUSION.

C. Read aloud your best sentence to your partner and recombine their best sentence and yours into one common sentence to share verbally with the class.


For every paragraph in your essay write a sentence that captures the meaning of the longer passages you wrote.



# list.        PARAGRAPH [ ¶ ] =                SENTENCE















Comparing and contrasting these writings.



Marshes of the Ocean Shore

Share with a partner three to five key phrases from passages that are contrasting or comparable in both writers.



1.    William Byrd's description of a survey line to settle a disputed boundary between the older colony of Virginia and the newer colony of Carolina bears many parallels the "Frontier of estuaries," chapter in that unsettled land is often described as "dirty," or "impassable," emphasizing "though we picked our way, up to the knees in mud." (p.15)


2.    Byrd, who accompanied the survey team –people carrying 60-70 pounds of equipment and provisions (p. 19.),–often describes coastal Virginia as so damp to the point of causing diseases, or as the residence of peculiarly behaving people who "devour so much swine's flesh, that it fills them full of gross humours." (page 17)


3.    Siry uses such examples of disease and obstructing swamps from other parts of the country's tidewater terrains to explain one of the incentives for drainage and reclamation of coastal land.


4.    The boundary line that Byrd is surveying is for the purpose of creating better maps to settle revenue disputes among the mother country and the sister colonies, but in so doing he describe Norfolk town plantations, woods, particular native and introduced species, and crops of both the settlers and the indigenous Algonquin peoples (esp. pp. 35-37).