In Chapter 5: Revising the Thesis, you learned the importance of revising ambiguous statements often present in the thesis and the author’s ideas you developed during the writing process. Marking a straight path for the paper is important at the beginning of your writing task, because your topic sentences won’t know where to go. If you tell someone “Go there,” but don’t provide specific direction, then that person will not know “where” to go.
Likewise, your thesis tells the topic sentence where to go, what to do, and how to prepare a body paragraph for supporting evidence. If your thesis is All dogs are nice, if they lick your face, then your topic sentences will need to reflect those dogs that meet this condition. All dogs that are nice, but don’t lick your face is not an appropriate topic sentence.
Starting a path and maintaining it is a difficult part of the process of writing. However, revising sentences to ensure that they conform to the purpose implied within the thesis is equally or more so difficult. Now you have to go back and remember your sentiments about a particular sentence. Sometimes this is not always easy or beneficial. After all the paper you feel you have written is complete and ready for submission to your professor. Therefore, the task of reviewing areas of your paper must begin with evaluating the topic sentences.
Chapter 6: Revising Topic Sentences begins with the margin comment “Right/On the Right Path.” It is a comment most professors use to signify to students they have not deviated from the original purpose of their thesis. This comment is important because it allows the reader to view samples of two excerpts: one where the student maintains a sound path for the thesis and another where the student needs to bridge gaps in the analysis by providing specific detail.
In the former instance, the student develops clear responses. In the latter, if the student provides answers to the implied questions, then he or she will be able to maintain the path of her thesis. In other words, the rhetorical questions we use help the student stay on the right path, so to speak. With this in mind, Chapter 6 provides tips for students to help them stick with the topic and clarify vague topic sentences.
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