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Definition:

In composition, the process of adding informative and illustrative details to support the main idea in a paragraph or essay.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "What the opening of an essay promises, the body of the essay must deliver. This is known as 'developing your ideas,' but I like to use a body-building metaphor because it implies adding not just bulk to a framework, but musculature. In other words, good essay development strengthens, not merely fills out. . . .

    "What is the best way to reinforce the main idea of your essay? You can do some by making good use of any combination of the following six methods of development:

    By using these bodybuilding elements, you are telling your readers, 'I don't expect you to take my word for these claims; I want you to see for yourself!"
    (Fred D. White, LifeWriting: Drawing from Personal Experience to Create Features You Can Publish. Quill Driver Books, 2004)


  • "Although most short papers may employ one primary pattern with other patterns woven throughout, longer papers may have two or more primary patterns of development. For example, if you are writing a paper on the causes and effects of child abuse in the foster care system, you might, after the causal analysis, shift the primary focus of the essay to prevention, thus continuing the essay with a process analysis of what the state might do to prevent child abuse. Then you might end the essay by addressing the objections from those defending the system, shifting the focus of the essay to argumentation. Your decision to include other primary patterns depends on your purpose and audience. Your thesis makes your purpose clear to your reader. Then as you develop your essay, you may integrate other patterns into your paragraphs."
    (Luis Nazario, Deborah Borchers, and William Lewis, Bridges to Better Writing. Wadsworth, 2010)
Also Known As: elaboration
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