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Notes for Effective Writing I
Notes for Introduction to Literature
~~ Building A Thesis ~~
The thesis is the sentence or group of sentences, presented in the essay's introduction, body, and/or conclusion, which express the main idea you are trying to convey. The thesis is sometimes called the "controlling idea" because it "controls" the content of the essay. Experienced writers know how to write an effective thesis so that they have an easy time organizing and developing their content.
A strong thesis is absolutely essential to a successful essay. Without it your essay will seem unfocused, fuzzyit'll seem to have little direction, and readers may have a hard time understanding what you wanted to accomplish. A clear thesis, on the other hand, helps you and the reader stay on track. Without an clear thesis, it will be impossible to write a well developed, unified, coherent essay.
If you want to
write an effective thesis, begin by remembering a simple equation:
As expressed above, the thesis names your general subject and makes an assertion about that subject. It states the topic and the point you want to make about that topic.
An effective thesis, then, has two key qualities: it is both a general statement and an explicit statement.
Note what makes this an excellent thesis: first, the subject is named. The subject is "heroes." We know that this paper will present some ideas about heroes. We don't know what those ideas are yet, however, because we haven't gotten to the assertion. Many writers (and readers) make the mistake of confusing the terms "subject" and "thesis." They aren't synonymous. The thesis includes the POINT the writer wants to make about the subject, heroes.
When we get to the assertion, we can see that it is very clearly presentedit is has those two desireable qualities: it's both general and explicit. (What about heroes? they exist but are unlike celebrities in that their actions are meaningful, selfless, and courageous )
NOTICE: The thesis is a general statement with explicit terms. In the above example, three qualities are named (made explicit), but they are all general enough to need further explanation (they suggest how the writer needs to develop the paper).
NOTICE: The thesis is a complete, grammatical sentence which is smoothly integrated into the essay. It usually appears somewhere in the introduction, but may be repeated throughout the essay in slightly different words. When you use explicit terms, you may find it helpful to remember to use parallel sentence structure.
Which of the following thesis statements do you think are strong? Which ones weak? What are your reasons?
These thesis statements are all strong, and they all suggest that an expressive essay will follow.
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