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Writing Workshop: Topic Sentences

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by

W. Meyers

on 22 June 2016

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Transcript of Writing Workshop: Topic Sentences

What a Topic Sentence is NOT
It is not a title.
(
What basketball means to me
)
It is not too general or ambiguous.
(
The role that basketball has played in my education has been very important.
)
It is not an explanation of what you are going to write about.
(
I am going to tell you about the role basketball played in my education.
)
Exercises: Selecting the best topic sentences
In a paragraph about how to train a cat, which version would work best as a topic sentence?
Writing Paragraphs with Good Topic Sentences
Choose a topic to write a paragraph (at least 5 sentences long). Remember to use a good topic sentence to begin your paragraph. Here are some prompts to get you started:

1. A sport that you love
2. What you would do if you had a million dollars
3. Something you are afraid of
4. The best movie you saw during the summer
5. Advice you would give a new student
6. Your opinion on students having to wear uniforms


Writing Workshop: Topic Sentences
What is a Topic Sentence?
A paragraph is one of the building blocks of writing. Every paragraph should include a
topic sentence
that identifies the main idea of the paragraph. A topic sentence is essentially a single sentence that directly states the paragraph's main idea. Some paragraphs have an
implied main idea
, which means that the paragraph's main idea is not directly stated and it is left up to the reader to piece together the sentences to draw a conclusion about the main idea.
A good topic sentence...
...is always a complete sentence expressing an idea about the topic you will write about.
...is specific and conveys the main subject of the paragraph.
...has your main claim, point, or topic at the beginning of the paragraph.

Example of a good topic sentence:
If it hadn't been for basketball, I might never have taken school seriously.
Example of a paragraph with a topic sentence:


Topic sentences often act like tiny thesis statements.
Like a thesis statement, a topic sentence makes a claim of some sort. In the same way that the thesis statement is the unifying force in the essay, so the topic sentence must be the unifying force in the paragraph. Further, as is the case with the thesis statement, when the topic sentence makes a claim, the paragraph which follows must expand, describe, or prove it in some way. Topic sentences make a point and give reasons or examples to support it.
This paragraph is about how to train a cat.
Before a cat learns anything, it first teaches its owner a lesson in humility.
Animal training is a complicated subject.
Before a cat learns anything, it first teaches its owner a lesson in humility.
In a paragraph about scuba diving, which version would work best as a topic sentence?
The excitement of scuba diving.
Scuba diving is very interesting.
The sport of scuba diving has always fascinated me.
The sport of scuba diving has always fascinated me.
For a paragraph about cooking, which version would work best as a topic sentence?
For a paragraph about the use of cellphones in India, which version would work best as a topic sentence?
Cellphones are dramatically improving lives of farmers and fishermen in India.
My main topic is about the fishermen and farmers in India and their use of cellphones.
Since farmers and fishermen work far away from the main urban areas and normal landlines cannot reach them, cellphones have become the way most of them communicate with traders, their co-workers, and their families.
Cellphones are dramatically improving lives of farmers and fishermen in India.
Cooking requires many different skills.
Cooking is hard.
The art of cooking with all the necessary skills and sharing the knowledge of the best chefs in the country.
Cooking requires many different skills.
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