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 sentence. 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 knew. 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 energetic. 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 0 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 breakfast? 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 wrote. 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 wheel. 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 requirements. 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 - 34- Essay Architect'" Narne ___________________________________________ Pcnlod 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 - 35- Essay Architect'"
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