Exercise 2: Editing for Paragraph Focus

Creating focused paragraphs to keep your readers on track will challenge even the best writers. This exercise challenges you to establish order in a paragraph that, while it’s okay for a rough draft, is too all-over-the-place for an excellent essay. We give you a few hints, and invite you to try it out for yourself.

Hint 1: Creatively combine the first two sentences to fashion an effective topic sentence.

Hint 2: Keep the focus on biodiesel. While the cheeky comments about your overpriced food and easy turns adds some fun, it distracts from the paragraph’s purpose.

Hint 3: Okay, so you like the cheeky stuff. Use it to create an emphatic ending to the paragraph.


Ski resorts consume vast amounts of energy. One way that ski resorts are trying to reduce fossil fuel consumption is to use biodiesel in their snow cats that groom the slopes. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, biodiesel comes from vegetable oils, animal fats, and used restaurant grease (Alternative Fuels Data Center). It turns out that the overpriced burger and fries you purchased in the lodge will make your future turns on the hill that much easier! However, the most common biodiesel fuel used in these operations is B20, which means that the fuel is 20% recycled oils and 80% regular diesel (Alternative Fuels Data Center). That’s not much, and it’s more expensive—20 cents per gallon more-- than regular diesel (Consumer Reports), so the cost of a lift ticket just went up that much more. Still, in 2018, tiny Beartooth Basin in Wyoming became the first ski hill to run entirely on B20, and they hope someday to use B100 (Ritter).


Give yourself the liberty to really rework it; do not feel tied to any content that threatens to undo the focus you are trying to give the paragraph.

And know that there are no right answers here, only more and less effective ways to keep readers on track.