1. Determine the type, purpose, and audience of your paper.
2. Ask a question, then make the answer your thesis statement.
3. Take a stance, then ensure that it is provable.
4. State it in two parts: a clear topic and a brief summary of what you will say.
5. Limit the thesis to one or two sentences.
The first part of Carson's topic sentence Soon after the spraying had ended is a transitional clause that looks back to the previous topic: DDT spraying. Topic sentences often begin with such transitional clauses referring to the previous paragraph. The second part of the topic sentence there were unmistakable signs that all was not well shapes and controls what follows. This kind of bridging helps the reader follow Carson's argument. Notice, too, how Carson further helps the reader follow her argument by providing a more focused version of the topic sentence later in the paragraph All the life of the stream was stilled. This sentence tells us exactly what Carson meant by all was not well.
These patterns can give a "lift" to your writing. Practice them. Try using two or three different patterns for your introductory paragraph and see which introductory paragraph is best; it's often a delicate matter of tone and of knowing who your audience is. Do not forget, though, that your introductory paragraph should also include a thesis statement to let your reader know what your topic is and what you are going to say about that topic.
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Here is a diagram of the basic essay guidelines. Remember, "Body Paragraphs" simply stand for Specific Ideas for your thesis. There can be many more than simply three.