Thursday, April 19, 2007

Topic sentences

Remember the power of topic sentences? Usually the first sentence in a paragraph, the topic sentence tells readers what you are going to tell them.

Here's an example of a topic sentence.

With computers in most homes in America, consumers are much more sophisticated buyers than they were.

The topic sentence should be the skeleton on which hangs your paragraph. The rest of this paragraph, each sentence, should relate back to that topic sentence.

Does the topic sentence always have to be the first sentence in a paragraph? Not necessarily. Take this example.

They crash; errors mysteriously appear and reappear; data is lost; hours are wasted finding bugs for which there are no clear-cut cures. That is why I hate computers.
The topic sentence, of course, is "That is why I hate computers." The balance of the paragraph, at least if I wrote it, would be a gripe session.
You can easily edit your writing by reading each paragraph, ensuring you have a clear topic sentence, then confirming that each sentence in the paragraph relates to that topic sentence. If it doesn't, simply circle it then look for another paragraph that the information in that stray sentence better relates, or delete it.
Good writing takes more than the putting pen to paper. Strong writing takes as much time to edit as it does to write, sometimes more. One good place to start honing your writing is ensuring your topic sentences act like organizers for each paragraph.

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