Cover image for Powerful paragraphs
Powerful paragraphs
Ross-Larson, Bruce, 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [1999]

Physical Description:
107 pages ; 21 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PE1439 .R67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Explores the essentials of solid, point-based paragraphs, with chapters on unifying each paragraph around one point, developing paragraphs in a variety of interesting ways, binding sentences within the paragraph, and creating smooth transitions. A catalog of exemplary paragraph patterns, supported with clear diagrams, gives readers models to follow and options to consider.

Author Notes

Bruce Ross-Larson, the author of Edit Yourself, is the president of American Writing Corporation, Communications Development Incorporated, and the American Writing Institute. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Whatever your writing task or your level of skill with crafting written messages, the Effective Writing series will help you express yourself. Although the focus in these three series entries is on expository writing, Ross-Larson, author of Edit Yourself (1996), knows how to stimulate the creative juices. The classification of sentence patterns in Stunning Sentences arose out of the author's insights into what is unusual about sentences--dramatic flourishes, elegant repetitions, and conversational injections. He allows sentence fragments--even recommends them to command attention--and provides a host of models to add drama or zing to sentences and give balance to their parts. But good writing is more than strings of sentences, however striking. So Ross-Larson also gives us Powerful Paragraphs. Here he emphasizes planning and unifying paragraphs around strong points, but he also shows how to make those points compelling and to link one paragraph with another. Bringing everything together, Riveting Reports advises readers to start with the message, then support it with points, using those points to present all the details. The author adheres to his own advice in writing these accessible guides. He also provides a table of contents listing in imperative form the rules of good writing (e.g., "Stick to one verb form") and an appendix of exemplary patterns at the end of each book that alone are almost worth the price. Challenging tasks made simple. --Philip Herbst

Library Journal Review

Ross-Larson, founder of the American Writing Institute, here offers a three-part course in "effective writing." He starts with the basics in Stunning Sentences, which uses model sentences to illustrate different approaches, including Dramatic Flourishes, Credible Quotations, and Stark Attachments. He moves up to the next level with Powerful Paragraphs, which tells writers how to make strong points and to link their paragraphs together to make smooth and highly readable transitions. Many model paragraphs show readers how to use the techniques described. Finally, the reader is ready to write Riveting Reports. This book tells how to develop a theme, put together an outline, gather material, write drafts, and do a final edit. Instead of the time- honored note cards, Ross-Larson has writers taping sheets of paper to the walls to get a full view, very likely the best way to write and edit reports with word processors. These three books have good solid information for writers and would be especially useful for high school students. [These three titles are also available from Norton in a single hardcover called Effective Writing, ISBN 0-393-04639-7. $29.95.]ÄLisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Author's notep. 13
An Approach to Paragraphsp. 17
Building paragraphs from a planp. 18
Getting off to a good startp. 18
Summing upp. 21
1 Unify Your Paragraphs Around Strong Pointsp. 24
Be clear about your subjectp. 24
Make a strong pointp. 25
Be sure every sentence bears on the pointp. 26
Repeat a key termp. 28
Repeat a sentence structure--for sentences doing the same workp. 30
Count the elementsp. 32
Signal what's to comep. 33
Stick to one subjectp. 34
Stick to one verb formp. 36
Fold two sentences into onep. 37
2 Make Your Points in Compelling Waysp. 40
Lead with the point and support itp. 40
Lead with the point and conclude with a commentp. 42
Lead with the point and, using conjunctions, join detailsp. 43
Lead with the point and list disparate detailsp. 44
Lead with the point and follow it with a bulleted listp. 45
Conclude with the point after introducing the subjectp. 47
Conclude with the point after listing disparate detailsp. 48
Make the point in the middlep. 49
Undermine a premise at the end of the paragraphp. 51
Undermine a premise immediatelyp. 53
Undermine a premise in the middle of the paragraphp. 54
Start with a question and answer it immediatelyp. 55
Start with a question and answer it in succeeding sentencesp. 57
Start with a question and answer it at the endp. 58
Ask several questions and answer each immediatelyp. 59
Imply the point in a series of details or examplesp. 60
Imply the point in a series of questionsp. 61
Imply the point by presenting two sidesp. 63
Imply the point in an analogy or syllogismp. 64
3 Link Your Paragraphsp. 66
Repeat a word or phrase from the end of the preceding paragraphp. 66
Turn the repeated word into a questionp. 67
Repeat an opening word or phrasep. 68
Signal what's to comep. 69
Establish pairs across paragraphsp. 71
Ask a question at the end of one paragraph and answer it at the beginning of the nextp. 72
Ask a question at the beginning of the second paragraphp. 73
Make a commentp. 75
Countp. 76
Place paragraphs in timep. 77
Announce an examplep. 78
String examples togetherp. 79
Underminep. 81
Exemplary Paragraphsp. 84
Sourcesp. 99