Ah, yes, the dreaded essay!
Don’t fear essay writing. It sounds scary, but it does not have to be. Take one step at a time, and it isn’t so bad. The thesis statement can be problematic for some writers, so let’s address it here.
The thesis statement is one of the most (if not the most) essential parts of an essay. It directs readers and helps them follow your argument. More importantly, a written well thesis statement can help you write the essay!
First things first
After being given, or brainstorming, for your topic, you will want to do some “research.” This could be actual research in which you look for statistics, quotations, or other data to back up your claims. Other times, particularly with personal essays, you will be writing from your own experiences or knowledge base. Still, you should take time to jot down what you know. In other words, you will be researching your own mind. Using a mapping technique can help organize your thoughts both visually and textually.
Only then try to generate a rough working thesis statement. This is just to get the creative juices flowing.
The next step is to think of three reasons that would support the position you took in your rough working thesis. Later, these points will be developed into three topic sentences to use in your supporting (body) paragraphs.
Now, use these three reasons to beef up your thesis statement. You’ll need to abbreviate them, but your one-sentence thesis statement should encapsulate the major essence of the entire paper.
(Note: Different kinds of essays might entail more than three primary reasons. Also, some essays place the thesis in a different location. All the guidance given here is one solid model but is not intended to be the only model.)
This recalibrated thesis statement is now your working thesis statement. For your purposes, it will help direct your writing.
The reason I still call this a working thesis statement is that it can change (unless your teacher is committed to it) after you have written the body. The three reasons you generated earlier are now developed and explained within the body.
After you have written all your supporting paragraphs, you will have a far better handle on the entire paper. Your working thesis might stay exactly the same; however, in some cases, it should be altered to better suit as the anchor for the entire essay.
Here is an example of the process up to the working thesis statement.
Topic: College accessibility.
Rough working thesis: College should be free for everyone.
Three main points: more job opportunities, higher education standards, higher GDP/economy.
Working thesis statement: Introducing policies that would make college free for everyone would lead to increased job opportunities, higher national education standards, and increased economic output.
After writing the supporting paragraphs, you might want to readdress this working thesis to arrive at the final version.
Your final thesis statement should have the following attributes:
- Be specific
- Express one main idea
- Assert your position
- Take a stand on a particular subject
- Provoke further discussion
The strongest thesis statements don’t hedge on their asserted points. Be firm in your resolve. You can (and often should) include counterarguments or exceptions within the body, but the goal is to always provide the strongest support for your position and show why these counterpoints do not defeat your major claim – your thesis statement.
You are ready to go. Start writing and never fear!