Ms. Ricciardi ENGLISH Who needs ‘em? You do. A paragraph without a topic sentence is like a story without a plot. Your paragraph (like a “plot-less” story) will just ramble on and on without any direction or goal. Topic sentences help you prove your point in an organized way that your reader can understand. Ok, ok, so I need a topic sentence. What exactly is it? A topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph which contains the paragraph’s main idea. From there, the rest of the paragraph develops. The other sentences in the paragraph add detail, explanation, textual support, and build up your original point. For example, if you wrote a topic sentence like this… In Antigone, Creon is clearly the tragic hero because he is the only character that lives through the play’s ordeals and has an opportunity to learn from them. …then you would write the rest of the paragraph to show how he is the sole survivor and is therefore the only one who can learn from his mistakes. In contrast, this would be an inappropriate time to discuss Creon’s tragic flaw, because it has nothing to do with his survival or ability to learn. You could, however, do that in a separate paragraph with a separate topic sentence. Oh, is that all? Well, not exactly. (Sorry!) The topic sentence should also relate back to your thesis in the introduction. This means that the topic sentence should be an idea that supports the essay’s thesis statement. It is common practice to support the thesis statement by utilizing three supporting ideas. Eventually, each one of these points becomes a topic sentence in the three body paragraphs. For this reason it is not a bad idea to approach each topic sentence in each body paragraph as a “mini” thesis. To ensure that you are setting your topic sentences up properly, try using either the author’s name or the title of the work in your topic sentence (just like a thesis statement). For example: Body Paragraph #1: Sophocles’ creation of Creon as a generally good and respected person who cares for his people establishes him as a character that fits the profile of a tragic hero. Body Paragraph #2: In Antigone, Creon is the tragic hero because of his excessive pride, which is his tragic flaw. Body Paragraph #3: By having Creon as the sole survivor of Antigone, it is clear that he is the only character who can employ the tragic hero requirement of learning from one’s mistakes. Note: Observe how all three examples share the words “Creon,” “tragic hero,” and the title or author. What do you think the thesis of this paper would be? Possible thesis: _________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Ta da! Now, go back to your outline and make sure that your topic sentences are the best they can be.
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