how to draft a thesis statement
- Avoid burying a great thesis statement in the middle of a paragraph or late in the paper.
- Be as clear and as specific as possible; avoid vague words.
- Indicate the point of your paper but avoid sentence structures like, вЂњThe point of my paper isвЂ¦вЂќ
Tip: The point you make in the paper should matter:
The first example makes a generalizing statement – it isn’t clear what will be analyzed or why. The second example is much more specific, and guides the reader through the historical analysis that your paper will undertake.
A thesis statement is not a simple statement of fact that your reader will easily accept. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence, analysis or argument to back it up – your audience needs a reason to keep reading! Particularly in an argumentative paper, if you can imagine someone questioning or disagreeing with your statement, that’s a sign of its strength.
Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You’ll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, “This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I’m not convinced yet, but I’m interested to see how I might be.”
First, analyze your primary sources. Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Does the author contradict himself or herself? Is a point made and later reversed? What are the deeper implications of the author’s argument? Figuring out the why to one or more of these questions, or to related questions, will put you on the path to developing a working thesis. (Without the why, you probably have only come up with an observation—that there are, for instance, many different metaphors in such-and-such a poem—which is not a thesis.)
For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.
- This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
- I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.