Writing Skill: Development

An architect working on a draft with a pencil and ruler

The writing stage is often called drafting. When you draft, you should be focused mainly on ideas, rather than worrying too much about your grammar. Use your outline as you draft to make sure you don't lose your focus.

Many students find it easier to begin drafting the body paragraphs before drafting the introduction and conclusion paragraphs. This can be an excellent strategy to write more efficiently because the introduction and conclusion are based off what you write in the body paragraphs.

Development

Writing is developed when the ideas are explained in enough detail. You need to show that you have thought about the topic and that you have something important to say. Paragraphs that don't have enough development usually sound too general or are repetitive.

Compare the examples below. The first body paragraph is not developed well. The ideas are repeated without adding specific details. Find the additional supporting sentences in the revised version that help develop the ideas.

Example: Paragraph (Lacks Development)

An excellent school has adequate facilities. Classrooms should be able to support all students with more space and comfort. If the classrooms have bigger spaces, then the students will be comfortable.

Example: Paragraph (Better Development)

An excellent school has adequate facilities. These facilities include classrooms, offices, and study spaces. Classrooms are an essential part of the facilities because students spend so much time there. In an excellent school, classrooms are able to support all students by having a large space and being comfortable. The large space of the room gives each student plenty of room for their desk and to move around without encroaching on a classmate’s space. The lighting and general feel of the classroom are also comfortable and a definite advantage for students’ learning. Research has shown that when people are studying in an excellent school, they will be more likely to have more knowledge and preparation than others. A large part of these results are due to the structure that is created by excellent schools.

You can revise a paragraph that is not developed by adding supporting sentences. Supporting sentences can give examples, explanations, details, descriptions, facts, reasons, etc. The types of supporting sentences you use will depend on your topic.

You can start revising a paragraph by asking questions about the topic sentence (or the other supporting sentences). Ask questions like "Why?" "Like what?" and "How?" The answers to these questions can give you ideas to include that will develop your paragraph.

The first example paragraph had poor development because the ideas stopped too soon. The writer said that an excellent school has structure.

The revised body paragraph with better development also stated that an excellent school has structure, but it did not stop too soon. It gave lots of examples and relevant details.

In order to revise the paragraph, the author might have asked questions like this:

Example Questions

  • Why are classrooms a facility of an excellent school?
    • Because they are the place where students do a majority of their learning.
  • What facilities are needed?
    • These facilities include classrooms, offices, and study spaces.
  • Why should classrooms have these features?
    • If a classroom does not have the right atmosphere, then students may struggle.

Sometimes paragraphs that lack development have the length of a developed paragraph, but don't clearly develop an idea because the writer was trying to sound elegant or add extra words to make a paragraph longer. Good development is not the same thing as length. You need to focus on supporting your ideas rather than making your sentences long. Compare the following paragraphs. Even though the second paragraph is a little shorter, the paragraph is more developed.

Example: Paragraph (Repetitive)

An excellent school has adequate facilities. These facilities include classrooms, offices, and study spaces. Classrooms are an essential part of the facilities because students spend so much time there. Students learn in classrooms. In an excellent school, classrooms are able to support all students by having a large space and being comfortable. The large space of the room gives each student plenty of room for their desk and to move around without encroaching on a classmate’s space. It helps students feel like they have their own place to learn. They need space so they don’t feel crowded. The lighting and general feel of the classroom are also comfortable and a definite advantage for students’ learning. Research has shown that when people are studying in an excellent school, they will be more likely to have more knowledge and preparation than others. A large part of these results are due to the structure that is created by excellent schools.

Example: Paragraph (Better Development)

An excellent school has adequate facilities. These facilities include classrooms, offices, and study spaces. Classrooms are an essential part of the facilities because students spend so much time there. Students learn in classrooms. In an excellent school, classrooms are able to support all students by having a large space and being comfortable. The large space of the room gives each student plenty of room for their desk and to move around without encroaching on a classmate’s space. It helps students feel like they have their own place to learn. They need space so they don’t feel crowded. The lighting and general feel of the classroom are also comfortable and a definite advantage for students’ learning. Research has shown that when people are studying in an excellent school, they will be more likely to have more knowledge and preparation than others. A large part of these results are due to the structure that is created by excellent schools.

Exercises

Exercise 1: Evaluate development

Read the paragraphs. Are the paragraphs well-developed? Why or why not? With a partner, make any necessary changes or additions to each paragraph.

  1. A cell phone is a good tool to use in class if used correctly. If students are from different countries, using a cell phone to search online can help with translation.  It can also help students to study more effectively and quickly. On the other hand, cell phones allow students to call others if they have an emergency situation. So, the cellphone can be used in the class if used correctly.
  2.  My room is the best place to relax. First, I have my bed where I like to lay down. Second, I can relax my body. Last, I can sleep, not all the time but sometimes. If we are talking about relaxing, my room is the best place.
  3. Art is a very important college course and a lot of students take it. In art courses there are a lot of fields like dance, theater and painting. Most students love this type of course because it helps them to express themselves and helps them to not be bored in school. Art can help students to relax and express their feelings. That's why art is an important college course.
  4. The most popular type of television program in China is about health. This type of program is always given the top rating in China. Television programs about health are popular because everyone is concerned about the topic, and the programs teach the viewers how to maintain a balanced diet and control their health. We need to make sure we exercise everyday and reject junk food. This is the reason why health programs are so popular.