Giving reasons is another way to illustrate or develop paragraphs. Many topic sentences give the writers’ personal opinion. Suppose, for example, that your write a paragraph with the topic sentence Today’s movies are better than ever. The topic sentence states an opinion that may or may not be shared by others. If you wish others to accept your opinion, you will have to explain why you think as you do.

Reasons answer the question why? Why do you believe movies are better than ever? Here are some possibilities may have other reasons of your own:

Reason: The new 70-mm film makes images on the screen appear larger than life.

Reason: A new sound system filters out background noise and makes the audience feel they are actually in the scene, listening to what’s going on.

Reason: With improved technology, movie producers can create spectacular special effects.

Your opinion is more valuable to others if it is based on evidence. Reasons supported by evidence may contain facts, the statement of an authority (a person who knows a great deal about the subject), or your own observation or experience. Reasons, then, are not just stated; they are supported by details. Some details may be facts, some opinions. It is a fact that movies are now made with 70-mm film, but an opinion that the sound system makes the audience feel included. Details help to make the reasons clear and the paragraph more interesting.

Using Incidents to Develop Paragraphs

People love stories. One way to illustrate your topic sentence and to capture your reader’s attention is to develop your paragraph by telling a brief story, or an incident. An incident may be something that happened to you, or it may be something you have read or heard about. Incidents may be serious or humorous, factual or fictional. You may use one incident to explain your topic, or you may use several.

Think and Discuss

•  One incident the writer gives to develop the topic sen­tence involves the horse that was pulled into the water by a crocodile and drowned. What other incident does the writer give?

•  By giving details about the incidents, the writer makes them clear and interesting to readers. For example, the writer gives specific details about the horse, telling what it looked like and what it was doing when the crocodile pulled it into the water. In the second incident, what specific details does the writer give?

•  The way you organize your illustration sentences can be very important. The events in an incident are usually organized in chronological order —the order in which they happened. For example, the incident about the horse and crocodile above is organized chronologically. What hap­pened first in the incident? What happened next?

•  One way to help readers follow a chronological order is to use words about time: such words as first, second, third, then, when, last, as soon as, until, soon, the next day, tomor­row, and so on. These words are called transition words because they help readers make a transition, or movement, from one event to the next. What transition words are used in the paragraph about crocodiles?

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