Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Composition Writing: Thesis Statement

What's the first thing I look for when I'm reviewing a college composition essay? The thesis statement. It is the most important part of the paper. Without a strong thesis statement, the paper won't have a clear focus and will fall apart.

The thesis statement is the paper's main idea. It is poorly named since it isn't a "statement" at all, but rather an argument. Most of us make arguments regularly throughout the day without even realizing it. For example, think about when you might be deciding which restaurant to go to or which movie to see. You tell your friend what you'd like to do and you'd include why. The "why" section of your argument is the part that will influence your friend. In effect, your goal is the same in an essay: You want to convince the reader of your position.

Unlike a conversation with a friend, however, your academic essay will be top-heavy, which is opposite organization of a story you might relay to a friend. That is it say that your main argument and a summary of the main ideas will be in your introduction (a careful reader should be able to write an outline based on your paper's introduction). If you tell your friend a suspenseful story about something that happened recently, you'll probably save your argument (or punch line) until the end.

To help to form an argument, push your statement further by asking yourself, "what should be done or changed based on this situation"? For example, if you were to write, "Americans have a complicated relationship with food," you could add, "therefore…x, y and z should be done." This approach will help you to push your analysis of your research further.

For more, click through to my posts Writing a Strong Thesis Statement, Be Argumentative in Your Thesis, and What's Your Point? 

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