Off the Subject

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

The best way to explain “Off the Subject” is to paint the picture of a presentation speaker beginning with one topic and rambling and venturing off into another arena of another topic. Of course, this is the simplest way of explaining this comment. This type of scenario doesn’t cause you to exercise any real intellectual muscles, because you have experienced this some time in your own academic lives. You typically say about a speaker confused with regard to his subject matter, “What in the world is he talking about?” Therefore, I don’t really need to add more explanation to this scenario to make my point.

On the other hand, I do feel the need to provide a definition of what it means to be both on subject and off subject at the same time. For example, if the subject matter is about Labrador Retrievers, particularly about how nice and happy they are as dogs, and you incorporate a different dog into the discussion, you are still on the subject of “dogs.” However, you have changed the discussion to include another type of dog that may or may not be nice.

Where you get off subject is when you venture into a discussion about pit bulls or about police dogs. If you want to include a discussion about all dogs that are also nice, then a discussion about Labrador Retrievers will represent one of many topic areas. Remember you can’t ignore “general view.” Most people know about pit bulls and police dogs and they know that these are dogs are not typically “nice.”In other words, what do pit bulls and police dogs have to do with the subject that all dogs are nice? This is the question you have to ask yourself as you write about a subject.

You have to know how one thing relates to another. If there is no relation, then don’t use the example. In many cases, you may have to leave off some examples that you want to use in your paper, or you may have to change the thesis by leaving off the “all” altogether. Therefore, make certain you understand what it is you want to discuss within your papers.

Visualize John getting off the train before he gets to his final destination. Instead of practicing patience, he jumps off the train. When he jumps off, he finds out that he doesn’t know where he is. As long as he hasn’t veered too far off the path, the only thing he knows to do is stay close to the place of his fall. If he stays close, he will remember the direction in which the train was traveling.However, if he tries to find another path, because of his impatience, he might get lost; and he is unlikely to remember the direction of the train.

With this in mind, stay on the subject in the same way that you would stay on a train by remembering your purpose for writing the paper. Your thesis is the guiding lamp for your paper. Similar to a train conductor, let your thesis guide you. If you construct a clear thesis, then you will stay on subject.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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