Writing a Good Thesis

Writing a good thesis statement isn’t as hard as students make it. In fact, if you’ve done good prewriting for an essay, the thesis will practically write itself. So be sure to have at least a page of ideas jotted down before you attempt this step. Let’s start with what a thesis statement is.

Thesis Statement Definition

The thesis statement is one or more sentences, usually placed at the start of an essay, that sum up the main point the essay is going to make. It should be clear, concise, and draw the reader’s attention.

Examples of Good Thesis Statements

Let’s say you’re writing an essay about your summer vacation. Suppose your prewriting generated the following main topics: fun, family, good weather. Writing a good thesis will be easy.

You might try:On my vacation this summer in New Jersey, I had fun, spent time with my family, and enjoyed the nice weather.

That’s okay, but I think we can make it better. Let’s think about other ways you could say the same thing. How about:

On my vacation this summer in New Jersey, I enjoyed sunny, warm days with my extended family.

Do you see how this sentence conveys all three of the main points without using the same words as the prewriting? It uses the word “enjoyed” to indicate that you had fun. And instead of just saying “nice weather,” it’s says specifically that the days were sunny and warm.

Suppose you’re writing about your favorite high school English teacher. You want to get across that she was caring, that you’re so grateful for the extra time she spent helping you, and what a big difference she made in your grades and your life.

You might try: Mrs. Wentling was a great teacher. She spent a lot of time helping me, and I got better grades and felt better about myself.

That’s a good start, but how can we make the thesis flow better and sound more interesting? Again, let’s play with the wording, trying to use strong, specific description.

I’ll never forget Mrs. Wentling’s caring and dedication. The extra help she so generously gave me brought up not only my grades but my self-esteem as well.

A good thesis statement doesn’t necessarily have to list all the main points, though. You can also sum up your essay’s main idea with a more general statement.

For example, in narrative essays, you’ll often see a thesis like:It was the worst day of my life.

This doesn’t list for the reader the reasons why it was the worst day. Instead, it leaves us wanting to read on to find out. While this technique works in some situations, in general you should try to make your thesis as specific as possible so that it serves as a guide for both you and readers as to what the essay is going to say.

Tips for writing a good thesis:

1. Gather up plenty of ideas in your prewriting. The more material you have to work with, the easier it is to write your thesis.

2. Identify the main points from your prewriting. Use the Thesis Builder for more help with this.

3. For your first attempt, just get the ideas into a sentence any way you can. Simply tell the reader what your main points are.

4. Try to use language that’s specific, interesting, and matches the tone you want your essay to have. A humorous essay can have a humorous thesis; a serious one should not.

5. Be willing to revise your thesis to make the wording better. Your first try won’t always be your best. Keep at it till you’re happy with the flow of the sentence.

If you use these tips, you’re sure to discover that writing a good thesis isn’t as hard as you thought it was.

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