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Topic Assertions and Claims

THE TOPIC ASSERTIONS OF PARAGRAPHS

Topic assertions (a.k.a., topic points; main points; topic sentences; or, claims) aren't necessarily a single sentence, nor are they always at the beginning of a paragraph. Depending on the kind of writing you are undertaking, you may need more sentences to convey a more complex assertion, or it may be more dramatically effective to place the assertion at the end or in the middle of the paragraph.

At this level of your development as a writer, however, you will be required always to place your topic assertion at the beginning of your paragraph and to underline the assertion.

Every topic assertion contains two main parts that must be identified and developed further in your paragraph:

PART ONE: A LIMITED TOPIC PART TWO: A CLAIM KIND OF CLAIM
A limited version of the topic: a narrower, more focused version of the subject a factual statement; and interpretation; an attitude; a viewpoint; or a recommendation about the topic One of 3 main considerations: what you want your readers to know (fact); what you want your readers to think (value); and, what you want your readers to do (policy).
Dark matter, unseen material believed to make up over 95 percent of the universe, . . . . . . has raised more doubts in recent months among skeptical physicists CLAIM of FACT: expresses an outward fact proved, defined, or explained by additional facts and/or illustrations.
Families that don't spend quality time together . . . . . . risk greater dysfunction than those that do. CLAIM of VALUE: expresses an opinion, interpretation, or position; requires a defense of values and an analysis and interpretation of facts and other opinions.
We should invest more of our tax revenues . . . . . . to improve the conditions of schools in our state. CLAIM of POLICY: recommends a course of action or a change of procedure; requires a persuasive defense of a position through an examination of root causes, background facts, and competing opinions.


RHETORICAL MODE

A rhetorical mode is recognized pattern of development for paragraphs and essays that creates a dramatic and intellectual effect. The following are the most common modes used with certain kinds of claims, but, in truth, any rhetorical mode can be used to develop any type of claim.

CLAIM OF FACT
Description (What's it like?)
Narration (What happened?)Definition (What does it mean?)
Exemplification (What shows that?)
Directional Process (How is this accomplished?)
Classification-Division (What types?)

CLAIM OF VALUE
Cause-Effect (Why does it happen?)
Comparison-Contrast (How are they (not) alike?)
Interpretive Analysis (What do you think it means?)
Informational Process (How does this phenomenon occur?)

CLAIM OF POLICY
Argumentation (Why should I agree?)
Persuasion (Why should I believe you?)
Analogy (What are the issues like, figuratively speaking?)

Last Updated: 01/16/2016

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Karl J Sherlock
English / Creative Writing
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