Students entering college are required to demonstrate a number of different skills, one of which is the ability to write. Students who haven’t had a composition class for a couple of years or who are returning to college after a number of years away will often take preparatory classes before being allowed to enter the college level courses. These preparatory classes often focus on grammar, punctuation, and paragraph writing. Students who are uncomfortable with their writing skills, as students in these classes often are, typically feel confused and perhaps even panicked when asked to create a paragraph. But an excellent paragraph doesn’t have to be difficult to write as long as writers follow the guidelines for a hamburger paragraph.
A hamburger paragraph can be about any topic, not just hamburgers, and any kind of writing, such as narration, description or argument. The hamburger refers to the organization and form of the paragraph, and it makes an excellent model to follow.
Step one: choose a topic that fits the assignment
The first step in any assignment is to choose your topic if it hasn’t been given to you. As you write, be certain you keep in mind the specifics of the assignment and what kind of paper you are supposed to write. For instance, if you have been asked to write a critique of a recent movie, writing a paragraph that summarizes the events in the movie won’t get you a very good grade. The first step in an excellent paragraph is paying attention to the requirements.
Step two: the bottom bun
Then, you begin building the hamburger as you write. You need to start at the bottom and work up, so you will begin with the bottom bun. The bottom bun is the topic sentence for the paragraph. This is the base of the entire hamburger, so it needs to be sturdy. That means the topic sentence must be specific, easy to find, and easy to understand. If my assignment is to write a paragraph explaining how to make banana bread, my topic sentence might read like this: Creating a delicious loaf of banana bread is fast and easy. This is a pretty specific sentence; I have explained what I am going to make and why you might want to make it. If I put this as the first sentence of the paragraph, it is easy to find. The language I have used is lingo my reader should easily understand. That makes an excellent topic sentence. So there is the bottom of the bun.
Step three: the middle
The next important part of the excellent paragraph hamburger is the meat. This is the basic detail that supports your topic sentence. In my example, the meat would basically be giving a list of the ingredients and providing a temperature and time for cooking. Most of us don’t like plain hamburgers, however. More detail will make this paragraph more appealing. I might add tomato by explaining that mashing the bananas first helps spread the flavor through. Some onion would be a reminder to grease and flour the pans. A slice of lettuce might equate to telling the reader that a toothpick can be used to test for doneness. The more extras you add to the hamburger, the more detail you write, the more attractive the hamburger is, the more satisfied the reader will be, thinking you put together an excellent sandwich.
Step four: the top bun
The finishing touch is to write the top bun. In a paragraph, the top bun is similar to a concluding sentence. This holds all the ingredients together. Also note that it is very like the bottom bun but not exactly the same. Rather than repeating the topic sentence at the end, an excellent conclusion emphasizes the point and summarizes without repeating. The banana bread paragraph might end as I write this: With very little time and effort, you now have a tasty homemade treat. This conclusion reminds the reader that my point was how fast and easy the recipe was, but it also clearly indicates that we have come to the end of the process.
The finished burger
Visualizing the finished product should give you some idea of areas you need to revise. Do you have a strong bottom bun that supports the rest of the sandwich? Is the middle of the hamburger full of good details like a paragraph should be? Following the hamburger model when writing a paragraph will result in an excellent paper.