For many years, writers have broken down their ideas into paragraphs, or sections of an essay that help the reader (and writer) to keep the thoughts of the essay organized. However, a paragraph is not just an arbitrary stopping and starting of thoughts. A good, clear, and crisp paragraph is carefully constructed so that the flow of ideas is easy to follow. To remember this careful construction, we can use the idea of a “sandwich.”
Now, a sandwich is typically something to eat that involves 2 pieces of the same bread, with some meat/cheese/vegetables/really anything in the middle. The 2 pieces of bread add structure, while the insides support the sandwich and give it “meat” or substance. See diagram of a sandwich…
Now see a diagram of a sandwich with information about writing a paragraph! Voila!
Let’s break it down:
Topic Sentence (Top Bread): The mini thesis statement or main idea of your paragraph. Your topic sentence should always tie in with your main thesis of your ENTIRE essay, however this first sentence of your paragraph tells what the topic of you paragraph will be. If the paragraph is in the middle of the essay, this sentence is also good for transitioning from your ideas from the paragraph before.
Supporting Details (Sandwich Insides): The ideas and examples that prove your topic sentence to be true. You can use however many supporting details as you feel necessary—just like you can add however many yummy ingredients to the inside of your sandwich.
Concluding Sentence (Bottom Bread): The final sentence that ties your supporting details to your topic sentence, and ultimately your thesis statement. You couldn’t have a sandwich without the bottom slice of bread otherwise it would fall apart! Sometimes this sentence feels a bit redundant, but it shows the completion of your ideas for the paragraph and signals to your reader that you are about to start on a new path (paragraph) that will support your main thesis.
Now, let’s look at an example paragraph structure:
Topic Sentence: Going to a concert is one of the most exciting ways to listen to music.
Supporting Detail #1: The energy of a live performance enhances the quality of the music that you ordinarily hear through a recording.
Supporting Detail #2: Beyond the music, performers also often include lighting and video effects to create a larger experience for the audience.
Supporting Detail #3: In addition to the performance itself, the ability to enjoy the music with other fans creates a strong bonding atmosphere in the audience.
Supporting Detail #4: Therefore audience-members are absorbed into the world of the concert and can concentrate entirely on the music.
Conclusion: Concerts provide a unique and unifying way to listen to music that goes beyond listening to the works of an artist in isolation.
***See how the underlined words are all contributing to the main idea of the topic sentence***
The Bigger Picture
Look at this example paragraph, what might be the thesis statement for this example essay?
Maybe something like this…
- In the 21st century, live performances are increasingly popular as a way to enjoy music within fast-paced modern society.
- Music is more highly appreciated and remembered when it is tied to a tangible memory.
Really, this paragraph could fit into the larger puzzle of many different essays. The most important thing is that it can stand-alone as one complete thought process and most importantly, one complete sandwich 🙂 Are you hungry yet?
**All images from Google Images**