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Friday, November 11, 2016 The Topic Sentence's Best Friend

The Dilemma

One of the hardest challenges to grapple with when writing a paper is organization. Disorganized essays seem to jump all over the place, switching from idea to idea on a whim, and they take extra work to read. How do you guide your readers and make sure that your writing makes sense to them?

The Solution

A surefire way to effectively organize your essay or paper is by implementing clear topic sentences. Giving your audience a direction for your paragraph before you begin your argument can make a world of difference. Effective topic sentences prepare your audience for the rest of the paragraph and make your job as author easier.

What does this mean?

The main function of a topic sentence is to refer your audience back to your thesis and to show them how the paragraph at hand will relate to your overarching argument. The easiest way to achieve this is to follow the formula and order you’ve laid out in your thesis.

For example, if your thesis looks like this:

  • The author’s point of view is expressed through metaphor, characterization, and setting.

Your topic sentences should read something along these lines:

  • The author uses metaphor to express his point of view several times throughout the story.
  • Characterization is another tool used to convey the author’s point of view.
  • The choice of setting also contributes to the author’s argument.

Again, these are just very rough guidelines, but the idea is to break up your thesis into its respective points of argument and to preview each in the first sentence of its paragraph. This will make it much easier for your audience to orient themselves and to better understand your supporting claims in each paragraph. They will have a reference point from where to proceed with the paragraph.

Topic sentences don’t have to be as complicated as they sound. Simply giving your audience a heads-up at the start of each paragraph will do wonders for your paper’s organization and clarity.

Mercy Jacobs is an English major and a writing coach at Liberty's Undergraduate Writing Center. 

Posted at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)
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