Writing: 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.

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 5.8: Brainstorm Background Knowledge for an Introduction

What does the reader need to know before they encounter any of these thesis statements in an introduction paragraph? Write your ideas on the lines provided. 

1. TH: The imbalance of brain chemicals, personality and family relationships are important causes of depression. 

 
 
 

2. TH: Reading can help stimulate your brain, reduce stress, and increase knowledge. 

 
 
 

3. TH: Obesity in the US can be caused by lifestyle or genetics and it, in turn, causes a considerable number of people to develop diseases. 

 
 
 

Exercise 5.9: Analyze an Introduction Paragraph

Read the following introduction paragraph. Were you prepared for the thesis? Why? Or, why not?

        Climate change has become one of the major problems that the planet earth is facing. Scientists have observed changes in rainfall patterns, increase droughts in some inland areas, rising of sea level due to flooding from storms, and other unusual patterns in natural phenomena. Researchers have also discovered that the planet is increasingly heating up. Oceans and land are warmer than in the past. To illustrate this, scientists have discovered that there has been an increase of 1.71 degree in the temperature between the years 1880 and 2016 in both land and oceans (Pappas, 2017). The planet needs to maintain a certain temperature for its balance and for the benefit of all living creatures. As many wonder about the roots of this phenomenon on the planet, science has shown that human activities and natural events are causes of global warming.

Exercise 5.10: Fill in the Blanks

A student is writing a body paragraph for their essay on the effects of increasing solar power. The student already has a topic sentence from outlining and knows how he wants to conclude the paragraph. He is now trying to develop the idea. He found many different details on his topic while researching and brainstormed a few more.

Chose the details with the best unity with his main idea and use them to complete the paragraph below. Write your answer in complete sentences. Use in-text citations if needed. 

Possible Ideas:

  •   

Paragraph:

[topic sentence]

.................

[concluding sentence]

Exercise 5.11: Analyze a body paragraph

What kind of advice would you give the author of this body paragraph? 

       Growing up bilingual has cognitive benefits. Humans have the capacity to learn languages. How much we develop this capacity relies on the context and experiences each person has in his/her life. Dr. Bialystok in her research assessed a group of monolingual and bilingual children with specific tasks. Children needed to have flexibility in problem solving, inhibit irrelevant information, and recognition. When the rules changed, the bilingual children were outstanding in their tasks. She attributed the bilingual children’s abilities in these tasks to their ability to switch between languages and select the appropriate words to use, due to their cognitive development. Bilingual people have the ability to hold two different things in their brain at the same time, and switch between them when they need it. Bialystok (2012) cited several studies that found bilinguals perform better in the cognitive and metalinguistic measures, divergent thinking, and creativity. She explained these advantages are because bilingual have mutual interference between languages to force them to adopt strategies that accelerate cognitive development. 

Exercise 5.12: Write a body paragraph

Return to the research about the causes of volcanic eruptions. Use the sources to develop a body paragraph that begins with this topic sentence: 

  • A difference in density or air pressure can cause a volcanic eruption. 

Exercise 5.13: Concluding Sentences

 Read the titles of cause/effect essays below. Pretend you have written essays except for the very last sentence for each of these. Consider the topic of the essay, and then write a memorable concluding sentence for that essay.

1. The Calming Effects of Art

 
 

2. The Causes of Tooth Decay

 
 

3. Gas Prices 

 
 

Exercise 5.14: Write a conclusion

Read the following introduction paragraph for an essay about effects of sugar consumption. Write a conclusion paragraph for this essay. 

       It is not surprising that sugar can trigger negatives consequences in our body. For that reason it is natural that people are concerned about sugar consumption. In 2008, Americans were consuming over 60 pounds of added sugar per year, which is equivalent to 19 teaspoons or 306 calories. (Gunnars, 2017). This habit has taken hold of the conscience of the whole world. According to Gunnars, sugar consumption went down by 23% between the years 2000 and 2008, but ongoing intake levels are still way too high and are the principal factor in making people unhealthy (2017). Sugar in great quantities can lead to health problems, such as obesity, addiction and changes in your mood.