Reading & Writing Center
Writing Body Paragraphs
Body paragraphs are the paragraphs between your introduction and conclusion, the ones in which you demonstrate your points. They are the meat of your essay. Strong body paragraphs do the following things:
- stay on a single topic
- open with a topic sentence, a sentence that says the main point of your paragraph
- give concrete examples with descriptive detail to demonstrate your main idea in the paragraph
- explain how the examples relate to your main point
- end with a statement about the main point, not on some detail from the example
One common way of explaining body paragraph structure is using the image of a pie, or PIE structure. A PIE paragraph opens with a main point that your paragraph will discuss, then gives information to support that point, then ends with an explanation of the information.
The opening of the paragraph should explain the main point of the paragraph, the main idea that the paragraph is trying to prove or show. Also called a topic sentence.
In the middle of the paragraph, you will provide information to show why your main point is true. This is the longest part of your paragraph. You will either include several types of information, or one type explained in detail. Types of information might include stories, descriptions, examples, quotations, facts, and statistics. Also called an Illustration.
At the end of your paragraph, you should explain how your information showed your main point.
Putting it All Together
You might notice that this structure is very similar to the structure of an essay. The point parellels the introduction, the information parallels the body paragraphs, and the explanation parallels the conclusion.
The following paragraph from an essay about kickboxing has been divided into PIE elements.
(P) My love of kickboxing has certainly had some negative consequences, but also many positive ones. (I) The most obvious negative consequences are the injuries. I am lucky because I have not had any serious injuries—just a lot of bruises, bumps, and cuts. But the many positive effects of kickboxing make all these injuries worthwhile. Kickboxing has made me physically stronger. In fact, it made me so strong that I recently moved a lot of my mom’s furniture with no help at all. It has also made me more resilient and able to deal with difficult situations. For example, at a recent conference I attended, I was able to deal with the stress of presenting a paper because I was used to having to think on my toes and not be afraid of getting attacked. Even when a famous professor began to ask me difficult questions, I was able to calmly respond to her questions as though I was blocking roundhouse kicks. Many of the audience members later congratulated me on my calmness in responding to her verbal attack. I am sure that this calmness is a result of my martial arts training; in fact, I even thought about kickboxing while I was answering the questions. (E) My kickboxing obsession might cause me a lot of physical injuries, but it also teaches me how to get past injuries to my body and to my ego, and to do my best even under stressful circumstances.