Essay: Writing slightly more sophisticated topic sentences

25 09 2011

I’m working my way through some essay plans, and I’ve noticed it’s quite common to see “smaller” points in your topic sentences. To make your argument more sophisticated, state the BIGGER reason in your topic sentence, and use that smaller point in your elaboration and explanation instead.

For example, consider the following question:

Assess the impact of foreign films or foreign TV programmes on the culture of your society. (A level question)

I received a topic sentence that went like this:

“[Foreign TV programmes have had a negative impact on the culture of my society] because it affects what people wear due to the Western influences of TV shows”

There’s nothing wrong with this, but “affects what people wear” really is quite a small point. Ask yourself why it affects what people wear – and make that bigger, overarching reason the point in your topic sentence instead.

For example:

Foreign TV has a significant impact on my society due to its highly pervasive and easily accessible nature. In Singapore, we are constantly exposed to foreign – mainly Western – TV shows, from Gossip Girl and Project Runway to entire channels of K-pop. In the same way fashion trends on the red carpet become pervasive in fashion magazines and soon hit high street stores such as H&M and Topshop, thus influencing how people dress, our exposure to fashion trends on TV also influence the way we dress. With cable television being the norm, the vast majority of our TV time is, for most people, spent watching foreign channels, and seeing foreign celebrities dress in a particular way. This, in turn, has influenced the way people in my society dress. For example, enthusiastic fans of K-pop can be seen sporting K-pop-inspired outfits, those who appreciate Japanese culture may be seen sporting the popular Japanese look of wearing stockings, and those who worship Gossip Girl may be seen dressed in outfits inspired by the show. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in Singapore just two generations ago – the current day grandparents. Among that older generation, one may still spot an old lady wearing a kebaya, or an old man wearing a sarong. Just the other day, I spotted a grandmother at the bank with her two grandsons, wearing a cheongsam. This was a generation that did not experience such easily accessible and pervasive foreign TV – or much of any TV at all for that matter. Of course, one could rightly question whether the correlation was solely or mainly responsible for this observation. Yet, it is difficult to deny that we – especially the younger generation – are dressing the way foreigners are. How do we know how foreigners dress? Where does this influence come from? And a big part of that answer is foreign TV.



Analyse the development of the above paragraph, stating what’s good and where there’s room for improvement. 




3 responses

8 02 2012

Incredible I wish I had your higher level writing skills!

8 02 2012
Adrienne de Souza

Thanks for the compliment. Though upon re-reading that post, I’m not sure this post really is the most deserving of it!

And don’t just wish – make it happen! 🙂

Sent from my iPhone

12 09 2012
Amy Tan Meiyu

Reblogged this on Where Nobody Dies and commented:
Still struggling with my GP essay until I stumbled upon this pretty helpful fellow WordPress site that kind of have switched on that lightbulb in my head. 🙂

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