Recursion involves repeatedly applying a procedure to a set of data, ideas, or a text with each repetition building on the results of the previous one.


In the writing process, recursive refers to cycles of generating ideas, composing sentences, organizing them into coherent paragraphs, then generating additional ideas, and so on.


While a few writers find it easy to think and write in paragraphs, most do not. Experienced writers typically generate sentences initially without worrying too much about where they will actually appear in the final essay. Once a large number of ideas and tentative sentences have been written, a writer can then pull related sentences into paragraphs and organize those paragraphs. The back and forth between generating sentences and organizing them is part of the recursive nature of the writing process.

A completed essay should be composed of several focused, coherent paragraphs organized in a manner that makes it easy for the reader to follow the writers thinking from beginning to end. Limit yourself to dealing with one idea per paragraph. The purposes of the paragraphs in your essay might be quite varied:

to explain what a specific term in your essay means

to describe your main reason for making a particular claim

to provide an example of how one of your ideas might be applied, etc.

Click the buttons below to review paragraph features that writers often include in their essay.