Identifying the Main Idea

Narratives and personal essays require a central idea to help focus and direct your writing. For example, consider this topic: Describe an incident in your life that caused you to change an opinion or attitude. Before you begin writing, create a sentence that will both identify the incident and describe the change it caused. Here are some examples of main‐idea statements.

  • The divorce of my parents when I was seven changed my view that adults were infallible and always in control of their own lives.

  • When I was eight, my cat became ill and died. I began to mistrust doctors' reassurances—a mistrust that has remained with me ever since.

  • Changing high schools when I was fifteen made me realize for the first time that the fear of an experience is often worse than the reality.