Developing a Thesis

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We’ve covered a few aspects of writing that can be applied to several situations and forms. The thesis is a bit different; while every piece of writing should have some type of thesis or purpose statement, the ways in which writers craft their theses depend entirely on the type of writing. As with my other modules, this piece will use the analytical essay as an example; however, this one might be more difficult to apply to other situations. 

So: what is a thesis? This is, arguably, the most important sentence in an academic essay. The thesis states the central argument that a writer will explore and/or defend throughout the paper. This sentence (or group of sentences) should do several important things. 

  • It should make a focused claim. 
  • It should posit something unique. 
  • It should make an argument based on evidence, including contradictory evidence. 
  • It will govern the entire paper. 

Conversely, a thesis statement does not make an argument about the topic, and it is not a purpose statement. The crucial difference is that, while a thesis statement makes an argument, a purpose statement is simply a summary or description.  

Writing a thesis begins with a series of essential questions. What interests you about the topic? Why are you interested? Write these ideas down, then transform them into claims. Continue to ask yourself “how” and “why” questions to go deeper into the topic. This will help you, the writer, develop a working thesis.  

To better organize your thoughts, consider crafting a chart with “what” “how,” and “why.” Below, describe what you will argue (your argument), how you will argue it (your evidence), and why it matters (your conclusion and contradicting evidence). Start this brainstorming as a list of bulleted points, then eventually transform them into full sentences. In answering these three questions, you will develop a “three-story” thesis, which examines each aspect of your argument.