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(For more on methods of development, see “Patterns of Organization and Methods of Development,” later in this “Drafting” section of this text.).
When in doubt, ask your instructors about their preferences in areas such as these.
One area where you’re likely to find implied topic sentences is in narrative essays.
One way to think about a topic sentence, is that it presents the broadest view of what you want your readers to understand.
This is to say that you’re providing a broad statement that either announces or brings into focus the purpose or the meaning for the details of the paragraph.
The topic of a chapter from a medical text might be phlebotomy (the practice of drawing blood from a patient), while the focus of a section of that chapter might be about safe disposal of used needles. Improved presentation of a topic: While it’s a common belief that the use of cell phones causes lower levels of concentration and focus, cell phone use does have a place in the classroom, and smart phones should be considered a valuable educational tool.
Maybe the topic of a persuasive speech is organic produce, while the focus of the speech is about the importance of supporting local organic farms. What if I told you that the topic sentence doesn’t necessarily need to be at the beginning?
The widest point of each diagram (the bases of the triangles) represents the topic sentence of the paragraph.
As details are presented, the topic becomes narrower and more focused.
The topic can precede the details, it can follow them, it can both precede and follow them, or the details can surround the topic.
There are surely more alternatives than those that are presented here, but this gives you an idea of some of the possible paragraph structures and possible placements for the topic sentence of a paragraph.