Document 216636

Readers want to know if your essay is going to be interesting to read. Sometimes readers
of college application essays read the introduction of your essay and the topic sentences
to see if they want to read more of what you want to say. A college admissions officer
knows that if you can't write a strong topic sentence, you probably will have weak
paragraphs as.weU(Mason.123i • Fondef·that!Leam how to write ·the·hlnd of topic·
sentences that have a strong engaging focus.
Here are kinds of topic sentences:
"Standard Lead"
"Freak Lead"
"Shock Lead"
Suspended-Interest Lead"
"Imperative Lead" (Mason 123-127)
IMason, James. How to Write a Winning College Application Essay, Revised 4'h Edition.
New York: Three Rivers Press, Random House, Inc., 2000.
According to James Mason, author of How to Write a Winning College
Application Essay, standard Leads (or Topic Sentences) are "leads that answer anyone of
a combination of six basic questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how? A
summary lead is a sentence that tries to answer as many of these questions as it ·can in one
Who lead: David Bowie is one of rock music's great innovators.
What lead: Rock music has a major influence on young people throughout the world.
Where lead: Hollywood is a town that defies explanation.
When lead: Last week I learned that timing is everything.
Why lead: Johnny B. Goode played his guitar to win the heart of every Suzie Q. that he
How lead: The best way to get ahead is to get started.
Summary lead: On December 8, in 1980, John Lennon was shot and killed by a crazed
autograph seeker in The Dakota Building in downtown Manhattan, the assailant hoping
to gain national prominence bycullllllittingthe tragic crime;" (125) ...... .
.. .... Th.e topi<: sentencesahc)Yt:~eLap1U1i,-,)lII:!!:Jlne~tjQl! ... SQm.etimes writ5;J]l,
especially of news articles, may write a sentence that acts as a "hook to set up the topic
sentence that is coming next" (Mason 126). According to James Mason, these sentences
are called "freak leads," because they do attract the attention of the reader. There are
several types of "freak leads."
Question (asks a question of the reader): What matters to me more than anything?
Statistic: I weigh 172 pounds and 6 ounces.
Quote: Vince Lombardi once told his Green Bay Packers at the start of a season,
'''If you're not fIred with enthusiasm, you'll be fired with enthusiasm.'" (126)
Here are the other leads as described by Mason:
Shock Lead: "Stuns" the reader-- "Television is electronic heroin" (126).
Suspended Lead: Creates mystery--- "He never gave up on me" (126).
Imperative Lead: Orders the reader to do something--- "Read this essay with an open
mind" (126).
As you can see, many of these leads are the same as the "Decorations," specifically the
dramatic opening and closing," of the style techniques suggested by Andrew Pudewa in
Teaching Writing Structure & Style.
Writing 10pia Sentenaes from "Who?" Foaus Questions
Topic Sentence: suJUect+focus, not too broad, not too blah,_ one idea
A topic sentence is like an umbrella; it is designed to cover
something. You must be able to name at least three 'things that
relate to the topic of the sentence you write for your sentence to
qualify as a TOPIC sentence.
Write a topic sentence for the following questions. The topic
sentence must have a subject and a focus.
See the example below:
o Focus Question: Who makes your household run well?
o T.S.: My mother makes our household run well.
Now, edit (copy) edit (paste) the topic sentence and select
synonyms to make ther sentence more vivid, focused, and
o T.S.: My devoted mother causes our household to function
extremely wel/.
Clincher: 2-3 words from the topic sentence reflected or repeated
in the clincher sentence; sums up or reacts. Write clincher for the
topic sentence above:
o Clincher: My family is continually grateful for the blessings of
my creative and faithful mother's housekeeping skills, which
result in a smooth-running home.
Hook-Your-Reader Title: =synonyms from the concluding
(clincher) sentence arranged in an interesting "hook-your-reader"
manner. Now using the clincher sentence, write an inviting title
for your paragraph.
t>: )
Blessings of a Faithful Homemaker
o Grateful for Our Skillful Homemaker
Writing 10pio Sentenoes from "Who?" Foous Questions
Topic Sentence: su/Uect+focus, not too broad, not too blah, one idea
Now you try it. Write topic and clincher sentences for the
following focus questions:
o Focus Question: Which teams have the best chance of
winning the Rose Bowl this year?
o Focus Question: Who makes goodhamDuF§ers?
o Focus Question: On Saturday morning, who fixes your
o Focus Question: Who helps you learn right from wrong?
Topic Sentence-Subtopics-Clincher-Title Exercises
Due 11112102
1. Rewrite the topic sentences to be one narrow, sharp, single
idea which is easy to recognize.
2. List three possible subtopics for the topic sentence you
3. Write a possible clincher for your paragraph idea.
4. Write a possible title for your paragraph.
Example: To train an animal, one needs to know how.
I. To train a dog to sit, when using sign language, is not as
hard as one may think.
A. Eye contact
B. Appropriate sign + movement
- C. Physical reward and com;ifltency
D. Clincher: Instructing dogs to sit and expecting them to
obey-.-nappens-easiJy.llo-mat-teF---what language--your
speak as long as you are consistent in following these
orderly steps.
II. Title: Canines Can Learn Sign Language Too!
Now you try it! Rewrite these vague, broad, blah topic
sentences. Be sure to do each step in the example above.
1. Literature is fun.
2. A child should be taught to be good.
3. Cats are great.
4. Young people shouldn't have to study in the summer.
5. Television is bad for the eyes.
6. Music is good for the soul.
7. A person shouldn't rush into anything.
8. Friendship is the best thing of all.
9. It is dangerous to go into deep water.
10. Democrats believe in more things than Republicans.
Name _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Period _ _ __
Writing Topic Sentences
A topic sentence is the first sentence of each body paragraph. It expresses the main
idea of a paragraph, and all other sentences support that main idea. These other
sentences are called details. These details can be facts, statistics, examples, quotations,
incidents or anecdotes, or sensory images. To write topic sentences, you will need to turn
your thesis support phrases (which are used in the planning stages of your essay) into
complete sentences.
Directions; Rewrite the following thesis support phrases into complete topic sentences. An
example has been done for you.
EX. Thesis: The legal driving age should be raised to 18.
Thesis Support: a) teens can be reckless b) they need more practice c) kids like to show off
for friends
Topic Sentences:
a. Teenagers have a reputation for being reckless and dangerous when behind the
b. Often, teens should have at least 3 years of practice driving with a learner's permit
before they are given a license.
c. Teens have been known to pack a car full of friends, which leads them to driving
faster, often without seatbelts.
1. Thesis: Advertising alcohol and tobacco on television is irresponsible.
Thesis Support: a) promotes underage drinking b) glamorizes their use c) kids/teens
watch more TV tban adults
Topic Sentences:
a, --.. .-.-.-------. -..--.---.--.---.----.--....--b. ______________________________________________
c. _______________________________
2. Thesis: High school students should be required to volunteer as part of their graduation
Thesis Support: a) promotes "giving back" to society b) teaches time management
c) kids/teens need to feel needed
Topic Sentences:
a. _________________________________________________________
b. ______________________________________________
c. __________________________________________________
<Cl2006 Secondary Solutions
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Essay Architect'"
Narne ___________________________________________
Writing Topic Sentences
3. Thesis: Students should not be required to read Shakespeare in school.
Thesis Support: a) it is out of date b) students don't understand it c) students have
enough to do
Topic Sentences:
a. _______________________________________________________
b. ________________
c. _______________________________________________________
4. Thesis: Fine arts programs are a crucial and integral part of the school experience.
Thesis Support: a) they promote self-expression b) students can find what they are
good at c) safe environment after school
Topic Sentences:
a. __________________________________________________________
. .._b... _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
c. _______________________________________________________
5. Thesis: The majority of reality 1V is degrading, demoralizing and harmful to society •.
Thesis Support: a) shows the worst of human behavior b) desensitizes young viewers c)
influences people to do stupid things
Topic Sentences:
a. __________________________________________________________
b. __________________________________________________
c. _______________________________________________________
©2006 Secondary Solutions
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Essay Architect'"