Paragraphs are built around claims, questions, or ideas that need to be supported, complicated, and developed with textual evidence and your explanation. Often, different writers have perspectives that can be fruitfully compared or synthesized to develop your claims.
“Here’s a pattern you can use to incorporate quotation in to your paragraphs in ways that show your critical thinking through connection. Begin your paragraph with a sentence that contains the main idea you want to make or the connection you want to show between two essays. Introduce the first quotation, provide it, and then perhaps add a sentence that explains that quotation. After a brief transition, move to the second quotation. Then add several sentences that explain the connection you see between the quotations. These sentences should also explain how the relationship between the quotations supports your argument. These sentences record your critical thinking, allowing you to use the connection you’ve made between these two authors to support your project for the paper.”
–Barclay Barrios, Emerging.
Here’s a sample paragraph I built using Barclay’s Formula:
[Main idea] Both Nicholas Carr and Sam Anderson argue that the way we use the Internet is altering the way we think. [This sentence and the next one add more context leading into the quote narrowing the topic] In “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” Carr worries that our shallow reading habits are fostering inattention and undermining literacy. He argues that the information-seeking state-of-mind we use to search the Internet trains us to neglect the deeper state of mind necessary to solve complex problems. [Introducing the first quote] According to Carr, the slow reading that produces this problem-solving mind is valuable for the “intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book…, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas” (n.p.). [Explaining the first quote] For Carr, these vibrations are the essence of creativity and crucial for ability to solve complex problems. [Transitioning to the second quote] In contrast, when Sam Anderson looks at our link-hopping Internet behavior in his “In Defense of Distraction,” he sees creativity. [Introducing the second quote] For Anderson, creativity is the ability to “powerfully link and synthesize things that have previous been unlinked” (n.p.). [Adding another piece to the second quote] The way to see such connections, in Anderson’s view, is through the paradoxical act of “focused distraction.” [Exploring the relationship between the two quotations] While I share Carr’s belief that slow, complex, contemplation remains necessary for the survival of the species, I put faith in our social and biological ability to adapt to the changing demands of our environment. While the Internet surely is changing the way we think, I doubt that we will lose the ability to dwell thoughtfully in a complex world because we seek out new connections in it. While it might take conscious and disciplined effort to switch from a state of focused distraction to a state of systematic attention, that effort is surely worth making.