I wanted to give a brief overview or the big picture of how we take a topic sentence, make it a paragraph, and then how we go from a paragraph to an essay.
I know some people are familiar with the writing process or how to do this, but some are not. So, again, I like to see the big picture. So, what I’ve done in my, I don’t have a whiteboard, so what I did is I took some paper, wrote on it, and used different colors, and now I’m going to go over and explain it to you. First of all, we have a topic sentence overview.
The topic sentence is kind of like a formula. It has two parts: you need a topic plus your controlling idea, and then that will equal your topic sentence. Some books will call it the main idea-I like to call it the topic sentence. That way we know the topic sentence will always be a sentence. it won’t be a question. For example, let’s take a look. Mexico has three beautiful cities. What’s the topic? What are we talking about? Mexico. What am I going to tell you about Mexico? It has three beautiful cities. So, Mexico again is the topic and the controlling idea or what I’m being controlled on how much I can write-am I going to tell you about four cities? No, I’m going to tell you about three. So that’s why we call it a controlling idea. It controls what you are going to write about the topic, and in this case it is Mexico. In my class, if you were to write an essay or paragraph and you tell me-if you tell me you are going to talk about three beautiful cities, and in your paper you talk about four. You are out of control, and I’m going to take points off for that. But that’s easy to fix. You could always go back and change 3 to 4. Then your paragraph or your essay would be back in control. Where are the topic sentences usually found? They are usually the first sentence of the paragraph. This here is the symbol for paragraph. And I usually write my paragraphs this way. I like to start with the topic sentence. I like the reader to know exactly what the paragraph is going to be about. That’s just my style.
Next, let’s take a look at some more topic sentences. I had a bad day for three reasons. That’s a good good topic sentence because I is the subject and what happened? I had a bad day? And for what- three reasons. Take a look here. I had a bad day for many reasons. It still a good topic sentence. it’s not as specific as three reasons-you’re using the word many, but you have a topic and a controlling idea. In the last one here is I had a bad day. This is also a topic sentence. Who is the topic? I am. Or you going to tell me? I had a bad day. And then I’m going to list the reasons. So, all three of these are topic sentences. I wanted to show this because some students think that you have to have three reasons or many reasons. That’s not necessary. You can keep it this simple because we’re going to turn it into a question anyway.
Well, how did I or Kevin have a bad day? And then we know, you the author, are going to list those reasons. So, all of these examples are acceptable. Now that we have our topic sentence we are going to make a paragraph. Let’s start off small. First of all, again, our topic sentence was Mexico has three beautiful cities. This is a paragraph and we all know that the first sentence of a paragraph should always be indented. On a computer you can hit tab, which is probably the best thing or if you are handwriting go in about an inch. But you must always have an indent at the beginning of a paragraph. So, again, I like my topic to be at the beginning of the paragraph. My second sentence is going to be San Felipe. Yes, it is a beautiful city. That is my major detail. Then I’m going to give a minor detail or give some examples or more specific information only about San Felipe. Number four I’m going to go to my second major detail beautiful city which is Oaxaca or should I say the City of Oaxaca. And then I’m going to give some examples or details about that. And then the last one I’m going to talk about is Mexico City. That will be my last major detail. And then you can give your last minor details as many as you want. And then the last sentence will be your conclusion sentence. So this is a paragraph in a nutshell. And we can always verify to see if we’d stayed in control. Our controlling idea has three beautiful cities. We talked about one, two, three. This paragraph is in control. Now we are going to change this paragraph into an essay. Let’s go down. Over here is, excuse me, this is the paragraph I just moved to hear and simplified it. Again here’s the topic are three majors San Felipe, Oaxaca, y and Mexico City, and then the conclusion. Now we’re going to make this into a five-paragraph essay. I have the number five over here with the a question mark. Most people think that you have to write an essay that is five paragraphs: the intro, body body body, and then the conclusion. It’s the most common, but it’s not always the correct way. Sometimes, you may have more paragraphs sometimes you may have less. It depends on how much information you want to include in your essay. So, let’s go back over here. Our topic sentence, which was Mexico has three beautiful cities is now going to become our thesis, our thesis statement. And look, I put in the last sentence of the introduction paragraph. That’s the way I write. Other people do put the thesis statement here here or here, but I tend to put in the end. I like to get your attention, tell you a little bit about the topic, and then Bam-I go into the thesis statement. Next, our major details here. Remember they were only one sentence here. Now they are going to become their own paragraphs. So instead of, excuse me, go back here instead of giving one or two sentences for minor details to explain San Felipe. Now you have a whole paragraph devoted to it. The second body paragraph we will devote to Oaxaca. And in the last paragraph we will devote to Mexico City. And if you see these green arrows, they are pointing to needs topic sentences now. So, the topic sentence here has become the thesis statement for the overall essay.
Now each of the body paragraphs needs their own topic sentence. For instance, San Felipe is a beautiful city because of boom boom period. And then you go on to explain why. So, let me recap- our topic sentence has now become our thesis statement. We want to make this paragraph-we want to turn it into an essay. Our three majors have now become their own paragraphs each, known as the body. And in the conclusion sentence is now going to have its own paragraph. All right, so, we just one over topic, excuse me, we’ve gone over paragraph to essay. Okay, everybody. Let’s go from a topic sentence to writing something a little more detailed, which is called the thesis statement. The topic sentence and a thesis statement are similar. However, I think a thesis statement is a little more involved because it is going to cover more material. For instance, the topic sentence is for paragraphs only, whereas a thesis statement is for an essay. So remember that. Topic sentence paragraph thesis statement goes with an essay.
Let’s revisit the topic sentence we’ve been working on: Mexico has three beautiful cities. Now we are going to change it into a thesis statement. Because now we are going to use it to write an essay. There are two types of thesis is you may write. There are more, but I like these two. We have the open thesis, sorry about the mistake and the closed thesis. But before we get to those, let’s take a look at this thesis statement, and I will give you the components of it. Mexico is a great place to visit because of three of its beautiful cities. If we take a look, we have Mexico, which is the topic. Is a great place to visit, which is our opinion or our stance. And then because of three of its beautiful cities-that’s our reason that’s the support we are going to give for our whole thesis statement. So we can prove ourselves or to explain ourselves. This is called an open thesis because yes, it tells us that it’s going to tell us about some beautiful cities, but it doesn’t go very specific. It is open-it is leaving it open to interpretation what those cities may be. An open thesis is also called an implicit or implied thesis. Let’s go down to the close thesis, and then we will come back and I think if we compare and contrast the two we’ll have a better understanding. Here we have the closed thesis. Let’s take a look at it: it’s the same as the beginning. Here same as above. Mexico is a great place to visit, and then here it differs. Because of three of its beautiful cities: colon, which means which are in this context which are San Felipe, Oaxaca, and Mexico City. This is a closed thesis because you don’t have to guess. They are telling you this is what I’m going to tell you about. These are the cities- they are being very explicit. Here, the open one they weren’t very specific. So, you are open to interpretation. You have to infer, maybe, what the cities would be. I usually use the closed thesis, excuse me, the close thesis because for two reasons one, it’s good for you when you’re writing because if you have the reasons listed San Felipe, Oaxaca, and Mexico City-the reasons. It helps you to be more organized. You know exactly what you’re going to write about. You have a blueprint for your whole essay. And then, I think it’s also good for the reader because then the reader also has a blueprint. They know what to expect as they are reading your paper. They know what is coming. Okay so in conclusion, we took a topic sentence, turned it into a thesis statement, we use either the open which is open to interpretation.
We’re not giving everything away in the beginning. And then there’s the closed where they don’t have to make any guesses. we know exactly what the essay’s going to be about. And again, you choose the one you like. My style is I prefer to use the closed thesis. Okay everybody, I hope this helped. Thank you- bye.