“Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The thesis statement — an opening declaration of a paper’s intent and purpose — is arguably the most important aspect of any paper or essay.
Your thesis conveys exactly why the reader is reading, and why he or she should keep reading. If your thesis statement is vague or falls flat, you might lose the reader’s interest completely; conversely, a powerful and thought-provoking thesis is sure to spark and help retain reader interest.
But the thesis statement doesn’t just serve the reader — it can also help serve you as the writer. A strong thesis statement can be used as a quick reminder of what you intend to prove in your paper, and can be used by the author check if the paper’s content and progression is “in line” with your previously stated reasons for writing. With that in mind, below are 3 Tips that I believe will help you write a better thesis statement. Following these tips will not only make your writing stronger, it will also help solidify your argument and go a long way in complimenting your own personal and unique writing style.
1. Declare your thesis in the opening sentence.
Where the thesis statement is located is usually a matter of personal preference. Some writers place the thesis statement in the middle of their first paragraph, while others leave the thesis statement for the last sentence of an introductory paragraph. I prefer to place my thesis statement as the opening sentence of any blog post, political essay or self-help piece that I am writing. This gives my readers an immediate sense of intent and purpose for reading: the reader knows why they are reading and what I intend to convey, right away. I’ve found that this strategy will peak the reader’s interest more immediately and help keep the reader’s attention longer.
2. Be bold and committed
Your thesis statement should be assertive, direct, and daring. Go big. Say something that your reader might not agree with from the outset — it’s your job to write a paper full of evidence and strong arguments that will prove it to them.
When you begin to write a paper, you may find that you yourself are unsure about what you intend to prove. If this is the case, leave your opening paragraph alone and come back to formulate it after your paper has been written and you have a better sense for what your paper intends to prove. Writing a thesis statement without proper intent comes indicates to the reader that you are unsure of what you intend to prove — it’s like an invitation to heavy criticism, and from the paper’s very start. Compare the following thesis statements:
“Nazi Party leadership might have wanted the Holocaust to happen for years before World War II started.”
This statement is neither bold nor committed. It’s actually pretty fluffy and weak. How is the reader supposed to believe what you’re saying? Conversely, watch how some minor modifications to the thesis statement can make your paper stand out:
“Excerpts from Adolf Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf — written years before hostilities in Europe ever began — indisputably prove that the Nazi Party had clear intent to commit widespread genocide against the Jewish populace years prior to World War II, and, thus, was a primary cause for the start of the conflict.”
Boom. Now, readers know what they are reading and what the writer is intending to prove. Go big with your thesis statement! Hell, it’s okay even if you’re wrong: If you put up a good argument in the paper that follows, at least you made a case for your thesis statement. And that’s what writing a paper is all about.
3. Run-on’s can be a good thing
I don’t mind writing a run-on sentence if it’s a part of a strong thesis statement. Check out what I wrote for All Money on Il, a treatment of North Korea’s intentions and recent hostilities:
North Korea’s recent actions are indicative of a failing state attempting to elevate their position in the international community, while the particular sharpness of their actions may indicate that the health of leader Kim Jong Il is in jeopardy.
Normally, I’d break this into two sentences at the comma. But because it’s a thesis statement, I want the reader to know immediately upon reading the very first sentence of the piece that this is what I’m intending to prove within the essay. If you make your thesis a run-on sentence, make sure its strong and worth every word you use!
Remember, these are some rules straight from my personal desk. They might not work for you. But, if you use them regularly while perfecting your individual writing style, you’re guaranteed to have a stronger thesis statements, and, as a result, an even better finished product!