The controlling idea comes from the purpose and the subject. It gives readers a map of the essays territory a framework in which to interpret the specific material the essay will present. The story theme is tightly coupled to the the VALUE at stake in our global GENRE. For example, if we are telling an ACTION story, our controlling idea will involve life and death. A topic sentence needs to contain the topic of your paragraph and a controlling idea.

controlling idea definition

The paragraph started out with Hawaii and end up with hip-hop dancing. You can see how the writer’s train of thought began to wander in the seventh sentence. With a different topic sentence, it would be possible to save this paragraph. Consider how different the direction would be with the following topic sentence.

Repetition of Wording

It is also possible that a sentence could do more than one of these. Click on the underlined segment of the topic sentence that contains the controlling idea. Every paragraph, sentence, definition argument essays and word should support the thesis statement in some way. It can be useful to think of the ‘topic’ as the ‘what’, and the ‘controlling idea’ as the ‘why’ – ‘why bother?

  • The topic is “pollution in ABC Town is the worst in the world” and the controlling idea is “many reasons.”
  • Answer Mindset means way of thinking or perceiving things.
  • Additionally, the reader knows that such mastery comes with practice, the writer’s opinion or perspective.
  • In this example, you can see how the phrases “the first” and “the second” help the reader follow the organization of the ideas in the paragraph.

If you’re ready to get started on your next writing assignment, learn how to create a five-paragraph essay outline that is sure to keep your writing organized. Every body paragraph in an essay should have one controlling idea. In other words, each paragraph should be about only one thing. Finally, a controlling idea definition concluding sentence would wrap up the paragraph, summarizing the main idea and allowing for a transition to the next section of the essay. Learn how to write the main idea of an essay, the thesis statement, and the topic sentence. Study examples of each and compare their meanings in essay writing.

Rescue 911 Middle School Controlling Idea

Notice that the example and explanation steps of this 5-step process can be repeated as needed. The idea is that you continue to use this pattern until you have completely developed the main idea of the paragraph. Paragraph development begins with the formulation of the controlling idea.

  • Click on the underlined segment of the topic sentence that contains the controlling idea.
  • You can see how easy it is to get off-topic, but with a good topic sentence, and constant reference back to it, you are less likely to have that problem.
  • Our example offers a possible explanation for the pervasiveness of the myth.
  • And that’s how to use a writer’s theme to write a dramatic tale full of conflict, tension and meaning.

At this point, you can remind your reader about the relevance of the information to the larger paper, or you can make a concluding point for this example. You might, however, simply transition to the next paragraph. The topic is “To be an effective CEO” and the controlling idea is “certain characteristics.” The topic is “having a first child” and the controlling idea is “significant adjustments in your life.”

a The best way to write your topic sentence is to consider why you are writing the paragraph

However, it should be specific enough that the reader can understand the paragraph’s main subject and point. This is the question you will get asked if your thesis statement, or main idea, is not obvious in your paper. Your thesis statement is the most important part of your writing; without it, your paper doesn’t have a main point or stance. A thesis statement states the purpose and topic of your writing, and the controlling idea indicates the direction and, often, the writing strategy you will adopt.

controlling idea definition

Conflating theme and controlling idea into the same concept may have been alright for your grade 12 English essay, but as an author you’ll want to separate the two concepts. Let theme emerge in the writing, but lock down that controlling idea before you begin to draft. Still unsure about writing your own controlling idea? Here are some great examples of outstanding controlling ideas. Developing a tight and original controlling idea is an essential part of the writing process. For something so simple and short, it does a lot of the heavy work defining and guiding your story’s central focus. If you are a high school or college student, and you write essays for your classes, you may not know what a controlling idea is.

Troubleshooting paragraphs

From this single sentence the reader knows that the topic of the paragraph is the SLR camera and that the paragraph will discuss mastering the basics of using this camera. Additionally, the reader knows that such mastery comes with practice, the writer’s opinion or perspective. That is, the reader knows from this sentence that the paragraph is generally about running. And the reader also knows that the point of the paragraph will be to enumerate the healthful benefits of running. Limiting the scope of the paragraph through the controlling idea may happen in one of two ways. For a body paragraph in an essay, a controlling idea is a word or a phrase in the topic sentence of the paragraph that indicates what the paragraph is about.

A controlling idea is an essential part of writing an essay that captures the reader’s attention. Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, except in two main situations, entirely harmless. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ instinct is to flee, not attack. But there are two situations in which a piranha bite is likely. The first is when a frightened piranha is lifted out of the water—for example, if it has been caught in a fishing net. The second is when the water level in pools where piranhas are living falls too low.

Writing the Perfect Controlling Idea for Film and TV: The Ultimate Guide

Often, the controlling idea of a paragraph will appear in the form of a topic sentence. In some cases, you may need more than one sentence to express a paragraph’s controlling idea. Here is an example of a topic sentence with a controlling idea that specifically sets limitations for the scope of the paragraph. Let’s assume your topic is “alternative energy sources.” Then, your overall controlling idea depends on the essay type you are writing and its purpose. You’ve defined the ‘topic’ as ‘the subject of a topic sentence’. You’ve haven’t, however, defined the ‘controlling idea’. The next movement in paragraph development is an explanation of each example and its relevance to the topic sentence.

The explanation should demonstrate the value of the example as evidence to support the major claim, or focus, in your paragraph. Every topic sentence will have a topic and a controlling idea.

Topic and Controlling Ideas

The purpose of your paragraph will be made clear in your topic sentence. The most common reasons for writing are to persuade, to inform, and to entertain.

  • Then, if it is the case, it is possible to have 2 controlling ideas in a topic sentence.
  • But it gets kind of messy to eat a sandwich without any bread.
  • It is the deeply held truth we are embedding into our story.
  • Robert McKee discusses the controlling idea in his book Story, arguing that a controlling idea must be boiled down to the fewest possible words and delivered in a single sentence.

However, there are a few initial steps we can take to create a placeholder controlling idea to use throughout the creation of our first draft. Just as a large company might have many department heads but only one CEO, the reading selection can have many topic sentences but only one controlling idea. If a paragraph wanders off-topic or discusses multiple points, it will be confusing for the reader and will make it difficult to follow the argument of the essay. For an essay, the controlling idea would be the overall argument or point that you’re trying to make. At an essay level, a thesis statement would usually contain this main idea. A controlling idea is a topic sentence in a paragraph. Notice how the writer provided three reasons to back up the phrase “several reasons” in the controlling idea.

Examples of Topic Sentences as Transitions

A “controlling idea” is a theme, or an idea that relates to how everything works. Everything that happens or is written, has something to do with this “controlling idea”. The topic is “dogs make wonderful pets” and the controlling idea is “because they help you to live longer.”

  • Consider how different the direction would be with the following topic sentence.
  • Controlling idea and topic sentence — Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans.
  • In either case, this limited scope, then, serves to unify the paragraph, since any discussion must be within the parameters of the controlling idea.
  • This will allow us to create a second draft that more tightly adheres to the final controlling idea.

This will allow us to create a second draft that more tightly adheres to the final controlling idea. As we create our story, our controlling idea should guide every sentence we write.