Skill: Unity

Now that you have an outline or idea of what you want to write, you can begin writing your draft. While you write your draft you should make sure that all of your main ideas (the thesis for the essay as a whole and the topic sentences for the individual paragraphs) have support that is unified in helping the reader understand that main idea. 

Unity is the idea that many parts combine together or are all connected to one idea. Writing has unity when the supporting sentences all work together to support the topic sentences and all the paragraphs work together to support the thesis statement.  Paragraphs that lack unity are confusing to the reader because some ideas do not seem to belong. 

Compare the examples below. The first paragraph has poor unity because there are sentences that do not support the topic sentence.

Example: Body Paragraph (Poor Unity)

       Chopin was a musical prodigy. While many people are aware of the great pieces he wrote, not as many people are aware of how young he was when he began his musical career. Chopin published one of his first pieces at the age of seven and one year later performed in a public concert (Plantinga & Hendley, 2018). At an astonishingly young age, he truly showed great musical talent in both of these things. While it may be hard to imagine, his interest in music may have begun even earlier. "In infancy Chopin was always strangely moved when listening to his mother or eldest sister playing the piano" (Plantinga & Hendley, 2018, "Life," para. 1). Many children show some response to music in their infancy. This early sensitivity may have helped his early desire to create and perform. It is clear that he was musically gifted very early in life.

Example: Body Paragraph (Revised for Unity)

       Chopin was a musical prodigy. While many people are aware of the great pieces he wrote, not as many people are aware of how young he was when he began his musical career. Chopin published one of his first pieces at the age of seven and one year later performed in a public concert (Plantinga & Hendley, 2018). At an astonishingly young age, he truly showed great musical talent in both of these things. While it may be hard to imagine, his interest in music may have begun even earlier. "In infancy Chopin was always strangely moved when listening to his mother or eldest sister playing the piano" (Plantinga & Hendley, 2018, "Life," para. 1). Many children show some response to music in their infancy. This early sensitivity may have helped his early desire to create and perform. It is clear that he was musically gifted very early in life.

When should I start a new paragraph?

1. When you begin a new idea or point. New ideas should always start
in new paragraphs. If you have an extended idea that spans multiple
paragraphs, each new point within that idea should have its own
paragraph.

2. To contrast information or ideas. Separate paragraphs can serve to
contrast sides in a debate, different points in an argument, or any other
difference.

3. When your readers need a pause. Breaks in paragraphs function as a
short "break" for your readers—adding these in will help your writing
more readable. You would create a break if the paragraph becomes
too long or the material is complex.

4. When you are ending your introduction or starting your
conclusion. Your introductory and concluding material should always
be in a new paragraph. Many introductions and conclusions have
multiple paragraphs depending on their content, length, and the
writer's purpose. 

https://www.palomar.edu/pages/eminamide/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2013/02/Crafting-Effective-Paragraphs.pdf

Unity In and Across the Parts of an Essay

You will need to have unity within paragraphs and between paragraphs. Having unity within paragraphs means that your supporting sentences in a particular paragraph all support the topic sentence of that paragraph. Having unity between paragraphs means that your paragraphs all support the thesis statement of the essay. Consider how you can draft your essays to have unity within and between paragraphs as you read about drafting the parts of a cause/effect essay below. 

Introductions

As you write your introduction, think about the information your reader needs to understand your topic so they feel ready for the thesis when they read it. Read the following thesis. What information would help a reader understand the general topic so he is ready for the thesis? 

TH: Positive urban development is the result of careful planning, wise investing, and a good understanding of the needs of the area. 

The reader needs to know what the author means by “positive urban development” so that when they read the thesis, they will be ready to learn about the causes of this type of development. The introduction may start discussing how cities change generally and then introduce the idea of positive changes like growth, stability, and safety. Then the reader should feel prepared for this thesis. 

The ideas in the background information are all connected to the topic of the thesis statement. They support the reader's understanding of the thesis statement. All of the background sentences should be unified with the main idea of the essay: the thesis statement. The introduction paragraph is unique; it has a hook, not a topic sentence. The main idea of the introduction is instead found in the thesis statement. That is the main idea the background information should connect to and prepare the reader to understand. 

Body Paragraphs

As you write your body paragraphs, keep your focus on explaining how and why your topic sentences are true. It can be easy to get distracted when incorporating research into body paragraphs, but make sure everything you write supports the topic sentence.

If a detail doesn't obviously support the topic sentence of a body paragraph, add 1-2 sentences to explain how in your mind it does connect to and support the main idea OR delete it. If a whole body paragraph doesn't obviously support the thesis statement of the essay, revise the word choice, cohesive device choice, or source used to show how in your mind it does connect to and support the main idea OR delete the paragraph. If a sentence or paragraph doesn't support the main idea it will just confuse the reader.

Conclusion Paragraphs

As you write your conclusion paragraph, you should keep your focus on your restated thesis statement. It is the same idea as the thesis statement just in different words, so it is the same idea as the main idea of the whole essay. You maybe will summarize your essay which will focus on that main idea. Or, you may extend the essay in the conclusion to a broader community and the main idea's global impact, but your supporting sentences should still be about the main idea. Be careful not to lose that main idea at the very end. Even your concluding sentence should connect back to the restated thesis statement in some way. 

Exercises

Exercise 1: Revise for unity

Read the paragraphs. Cross out sentences that are not connected to the topic sentence.

  1. The aftermath of an earthquake is more dangerous than the earthquake itself. When an earthquake occurs, the shaking causes problems with existing buildings and construction (United States Geologic Survey, n.d.). For example, gas lines may break because the ground around them shifts, and broken gas lines are extremely dangerous to people. Gas lines smell terrible when they are broken. Other dangers after an earthquake include landslides and tsunamis. The sudden energy of the earthquake sends either land or water moving, and anything in the path can be destroyed (USGS, n.d.). Earthquakes can have more energy than hurricanes. Tidal waves from tsunamis can swallow entire countries in the Pacific. When compared to the dangers directly associated with the earthquake, we can see that the aftermath is also important to be prepared for.
  2. One cause of pollution is huge factories. In the factories we produce thousands and thousands of different things for humanity. The biggest factories are in the food, petroleum, forest, auto, and pharmacy industries. Factories burn coal, petroleum, and wood. Having many factories would not be a problem if they used different energy. The problem is that no matter what kind of combustible material we are talking about, all of them pollute our air. They also are difficult forms of energy to replace so we will have less fuel in the future. Pollution has been a part of earth even millions of years ago but not the amount of contamination that we now observe. The Earth's ozone layer has started to thin because of the monumental measure of harmful substances in the air. The factories emit into the air harmful chemicals, and every single one of these substances is poisoning the air. Huge factories are in some ways useful for humans but also harmful to the environment and pollute the air.

Exercise 2: Write a body paragraph

Use the topic sentence and quotes to write a developed body paragraph.

Exercise 3: Write a body paragraph

The following quotes are about the importance of time management in reducing stress. Use the quotations to create a body paragraph that could have been used in the example essay at the beginning of this chapter.