Thesis & Topic Sentences: A Worksheet for Class Discussion
After you have arrived at a thesis statement or a topic sentence for your paragraph, consider the following questions.
Scope—Can I address this idea adequately in a paragraph of twelve sentences or an essay of the required pages? Do I actually want to write about a topic more specific, narrower, in a distinct context?
Specificity—Is the paragraph topic or the essay’s thesis too broad, too abstract, too sweeping? Have I found the correct, accurate nouns and verbs? Is my central idea in the predicate?
Supportability—Is there concrete evidence that I can analyze to advance my argument? Is this evidence strong enough? Too obvious?
Sustainability—Is the idea big enough to require a full paragraph to explain or a full paper to persuade? Is this an idea that will grow through the paper, or will I simply repeat it again and again with different examples?
Practice Sentences Would these sentences be good thesis statements for an essay, topic sentences for paragraphs, or neither? Could they be re-written to be adequate for either a topic sentence or a thesis statement?
1) The Return of the Soldier examines the difficulty of reconciling the dreams of youth with the realities of adulthood.
2) As Jenny learns more about Margaret, her prose is less and less sympathetic of Kitty.
3) Jenny’s observation explains Kitty’s interest in Chris.
4) Although The Return of the Soldier is set during World War I, its subject is not war, but what constitutes “civilization.”
5) The landscape of Chris’s home—and how it has changed—charts the man’s decay from childish dreamer to mature, but resigned adult.
6) West’s equivocal and ambiguous use of the word safe early in the novel prepares her reader for an equally equivocal but devastating use of the word cure at the novel’s end.
7) The novel argues that the lower classes will always be misinterpreted by the upper classes.
8) In this scene, Kitty dresses for her first dinner with Chris.
9) The colors white, red, and green are especially important in this novel.
10) In The Return of the Soldier, the War is a metaphor for growing up.
11) Rebecca West chooses to present her novel in first-person for very important reasons.
12) Because Chris has lost his memory of the previous fifteen years, he wants desperately to see Margaret, a girl he knew in his youth.