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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (October 2, 2005)

Some Thoughts on the Topic Sentence

In our learning centre, we expect the topic to be your first sentence in a paragraph. The only exception to this expectation is for the introductory paragraph of an essay.

Why do we expect a topic sentence in this position when other reading tells us that topic sentences sometimes occur in other places in the paragraph?

The students, by writing a recognizable form, will make the teacher's job easier. Remember that deeply buried or vague topic sentences can confuse and frustrate any reader.

Always remember that the paragraph is used as a tool to guide the rest of a writer's work.  How might we use this tool most effectively?

One way is to write the your topic sentence as the concluding sentence of your first draft. Very often, my students write a better concluding sentence than topic. Use this strength to improve your topic sentences by paraphrasing your conclusion, then placing the sentence first.

The paragraph written alone is a practice form. Very few pieces of writing consist of a single paragraph. Students will often write variations of a short essay when I ask for a paragraph. Ultimately, body paragraphs are just a string of the paragraphs we write for practice.


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