Next time you’re staring at a blank screen and wondering how to make the words for that due-in-24-hours essay magically appear, remember these two words: Topic sentence.
Your topic sentence is the key to making the rest of the essay flow from your fingertips to the page. Once you’ve got this figured out, you’ll know where your essay is going and what structure it will have.
Staying on Point with Topic Sentences
So, what defines a topic sentence? Essentially, it conveys the main idea of a paragraph. When used throughout an essay, topic sentences make up its backbone, giving your arguments a clear support system. They help guide you as the writer, keeping your arguments on point, and they also help guide the reader.
You might be thinking: How is this different from a thesis statement? Topic and thesis sentences work together, but topic sentences support the thesis. Besides differing in purpose, they also differ in number: Your essay should have one clear thesis (in a sentence or two near the beginning), but it may have many topic sentences throughout. The topic sentences don’t repeat your thesis — instead, they each focus on one key aspect of supporting your argument. Topic sentences will usually go at the beginning of a paragraph, although there can be exceptions.