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controlling idea

The Controlling Idea: Writing Better Paragraphs
by Jennifer

The paragraph’s topic sentence is a general statement about the writing subject that includes a controlling idea. What is a controlling idea? The controlling idea is how you’re going to write about the topic. Will your treatment, for example, be positive or negative? In a paragraph about drug control, is drug control good or bad? If you have to write a paragraph about welfare, what will you say about it?  Is welfare a good or a bad idea? Or how about the topic, “Housing for the Homeless?”

A title tells your reader what your writing is about. Will your title be “Housing for the Homeless: An Excellent Idea,” or will it be “Housing for the Homeless:  A Bad Idea?” Or will your paragraph be called “Housing for the Homeless in New Westminster,” where you live? Your controlling idea “controls” how and what you write about your topic. A paragraph about homeless housing in New Westminster, for example, will not include information about what is being done in Burnaby or Vancouver, just in New Westminster.

You are the paragraph writer, so you decide what you are going to say about the topic. The controlling idea is your expressed point of view on your writing topic, reflected in your title.

Try a Multiple Choice Quiz to test your understanding of the controlling idea.

(January 6, 2013)

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