The Paragraph – Structure and Coherence
NorthStar 5: Reading and Writing, p. 64

Outline the paragraph below, according to your handout
The Structure of a ParagraphUnderline the TOPIC SENTENCE, BRIDGE SENTENCE, and CONCLUDING SENTENCE.  Mark DISCOURSE MARKERS that introduce new examples.

Title: ______________________________

People who are unwilling to risk failure are not capable of achieving big successes.  The careers of the inventor Thomas Edison and the comedian Charlie Chaplin serve as good examples.  Without Thomas Edison, we might still be reading in the dark today.  But did you know that Edison discovered the lightbulb after a thousand different attempts?  When asked what he had learned from those one thousand mistakes, Edison responded that he had found one thousand ways in which a lightbulb could not be made.  During his early days in London, people threw things at Charlie Chaplin to make him get off the stage.  Would we be enjoying the starring film roles of this famous comedian today if he had taken those audiences’ reactions to heart and stopped pursuing his dream to become an actor?  Learning to cope with failure makes you strong enough to view every defeat as another step toward success.

Use different colors to highlight or use circles, boxes, underlines, or snake lines for marking. 

1.      Circle the KEY WORDS in the title.

2.      Mark the key words in the topic sentence.  Use different colors for the TOPIC and CONTROLLING IDEA.

3.      Mark all repetitions/synonyms of these key words in the paragraph, using the same colors you used in the topic sentence.

4.      Mark all COHESIVE TIES (pronouns/referents of the key words), using the same colors as you did for the corresponding key word.

5.      Mark all DISCOURSE MARKERS in the paragraph.

6.      Mark the key words in the concluding sentence, using the same colors as you did in the paragraph.


The following paragraph needs a topic sentence.  First, with a partner analyze the STRUCTURE and COHERENCE of the paragraph using the example above.  Then develop an appropriate topic sentence for the paragraph. 

 Title: _________________________________________


__________________________________________________________________.  Both Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe were wonderful entertainers.  Although they died in the 1960s, they are still remembered today for their genius as performers.  Judy Garland was a fine actress and singer.  There isn’t a child who doesn’t know her as Dorothy in the classic film The Wizard of Oz.  Moreover, adults are still buying compact discs of her many record albums.  Marilyn Monroe played comic and tragic roles in films and on the live stage.  People today still watch videos of Some Like It Hot, The Misfits, and Bus Stop, her most famous films.  Yet both these actresses tried to commit suicide many times.  It is not clear if their actual deaths were the result of suicide attempts.  What is clear, however, is that despite their great successes, they were not happy people.