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Body Paragraphs - Writing with the M.E.A.L. Plan

Updated: May 4, 2023

What's up guys! It's Dustin the online writing tutor, and I'm back to provide you with more writing support.

Today, we are looking at body paragraphs for essays, and we are going to look at something called the M.E.A.L. plan.

M.E.A.L. stands for Main Idea, Evidence, Analysis, and Link.

Let's look at a summary of a story that we're going to be analyzing.

Roald Dahl is the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, BFG, James and the Giant Peach, and so many other well-known children's stories. He also wrote stories for teenagers and adults. Here's one called "Lamb to the Slaughter."


When using the M.E.A.L. plan, M stands for the Main Idea. Here's where we want to state what we will be analyzing.

We can see that in the paragraph above, we will be looking at the motivation for Mary Maloney's deception.


In academic writing, it's never enough to just make a claim. We need to be able to support that with evidence. In this case, evidence from the text. (Note here that I have also cited the author.)


When it comes to analysis you don't want to repeat or restate what was already written. What we want to do is further develop those ideas and provide insight into the evidence that was offered.

Note that in the Evidence section, we stated that Mrs. Maloney is prepared to face the penalty for her actions, and she wants to protect her child. Here in the Analysis section, we say, "Indeed, more than self-preservation, motherhood guides Mrs. Maloney to deceive those investigating her husband's death." So we're noting that it's not about her own survival; it's about her being a mother and caring for her unborn child: "She is motivated to not only lie but also to do so "naturally" for the welfare of her child."


As we noted before, the letter 'L' stands for Link. This is where we want to bring the paragraph to a close and connect it to the next paragraph in the essay.

Let's look at the example below:

"Her success in convincing the detectives of her innocence is also due to the true feelings of grief she feels from her husband's death." The next paragraph as you can guess is going to explore how this grief helped her to deceive the detectives that came to her home.

When you put all of these together--the Main Idea, Evidence, Analysis, and the Link, you should get a paragraph that looks something like this:


When you're writing body paragraphs, it's important that your sentences are cohesive. There are a few ways to do this:

Here is an example of using cohesion in a paragraph:

The bolded words above do help to create cohesion. For example, "what would happen to the child?" refers to the previous sentence where we mentioned the concern for her unborn child. "Indeed" shows the relationship between the previous sentence and the sentence using that word. "This natural behavior" points back to the previous sentence as well.


You might have noted that the example paragraph was fairly short, but we can elaborate on our ideas through a few different techniques.

One of these is to brainstorm by asking focused questions about a character, or about an author or message within the story. Thinking of these ideas first before you write can help you write a much stronger analysis, and then also elaborate on your ideas and avoid repetition.

Another way that you can elaborate is by expanding on the paragraph. Instead of just having one main idea, you can have sub-topics within the paragraph and then evidence and analysis for each sub-topic before closing it off with the link.


Go ahead and write down what each letter of M.E.A.L. stands for in the comment section below.

Do you remember the two methods used for elaboration? Go ahead and write those in the comments as well.

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