A thesis statement is the main idea or controlling thought of an essay or piece of writing. It showcases a preview of what the writing will include. Without it, the paper stands without a focal point. The thesis statement lies at the very center (heart) of the piece of writing. Just as the body needs a heart to survive, the body paragraphs in an essay need a continual stream to which to emit supporting information. The thesis statement is an important part of writing.
A thesis statement generally consists of two parts: your topic and then the analysis, explanation(s), or assertion(s) that you are making about the topic. It is a very specific statement that should cover only what you want to discuss in your paper, and it should be supported by specific evidence. Think of your thesis as a map or a guide both for yourself and your audience. The kind of thesis statement you write will depend on what kind of paper you are writing. In some kinds of writing, such as narratives and descriptions, your thesis needs to provide some kind of statement in your first paragraph that helps to guide your reader through your paper. As you write and revise your paper, it is wise to change and develop your thesis as your ideas in your body paragraphs unfold.
The location of the thesis statement varies, but it typically occurs as the last sentence in the introduction paragraph. As well, the thesis statement should be rephrased in a fresh and new way in the conclusion paragraph.
Moreover, the thesis statement is not just a sentence that appears at the beginning and end of a piece of writing. It is present throughout the entire piece of writing. The main idea, or thesis statement, is introduced in the introduction paragraph; and then its ideas and essence gently flow from one body paragraph to the next until it (the thesis statement) finally nestles in the concluding paragraph. This central idea of the essay never leaves any part of the essay; and the essay always looks to the thesis statement for origin, guidance, and summation.
The physical appearance of the thesis statement varies: In an expository, narrative, or descriptive essay, you must keep in mind that you are explaining something to your audience. Thus, formulate your thesis with these ideas in mind:
What am I going to explain?
State the topic.
What is the point of my explanation?
Provide a purpose.
Are there parts or sections to my explanation?
Provide all categories.
What is the order in which I want to present my explanation?
A Thesis Statement Identifies the Purpose and Previews Its Main Ideas
(1) A thesis statement is more than a statement of fact or observation.
Fact or observation: People use many lawn chemicals.
I enjoy recalling my first date with Dave.
I broke my leg.
Thesis: Merely to keep their lawns lush and green, numerous homeowners are poisoning the environment with chemicals.
Because of a rather humorous and embarrassing incident, I enjoy recalling my first date with my boyfriend Dave.
While both deliberately disobeying my mother and skateboarding where I did not belong, I suffered a painful accident that resulted in a broken leg.
(2) A thesis statement takes a stand; it does not simply announce a subject.
Announcement: The thesis of this paper is the difficulty of solving our environmental problems.
The purpose of my essay is to tell you about my mother's near-death experience.
Thesis: Solving our environmental problems is more difficult than many environmentalists believe.
Because of a doctor's indifference and incompetence, my mother suffered a near-death experience.
(3) A thesis is a main idea, not a title. It must be a complete sentence.
Remember: While it is vital to create a thesis statement early in the writing process, you may revise your thesis statement whenever you want while you are writing your essay. Writers often discover what their real purpose and/or point are/is while they are in the process of putting their thoughts into words and then rereading what they have written.
Describe exactly what you want the reader to take away
Find your own unique way to title it
Leads / Attention-Getters / Hooks Potato LeadsA potato grows beneath the surface in a piece of writing. It’s the thing that the reader and the writer want to dig up. It makes you ask questions. I was six years old when my mother taught me the art of invisible strength.
Rules of the Game by Amy Tan
You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning.
Bright Lights, Big Cityby Jay McInerney
“You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you.”
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Kong Kingston
Snapshot Leads Create a picture in the reader’s mind.
Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the sort of man who could lose himself in a crowd. After all, he stood 6 foot 4 inches tall, and to top it off he wore a high silk hat. His height was mostly in his long bony legs, and when he sat in a chair he seemed no taller than anyone else. It was only when he stood up that he towered about other men.
Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman
The doorman of the Kilmarnock was six foot two. He wore a pale blue uniform, and white gloves made his hands look enormous. He opened the door of the yellow taxi as gently as an old maid stroking a cat.
Smart Alec Kill by Raymond Chandler
Misleading Leads1 Set up expectations, then surprise the reader.
I have a farm. It has lots of animals. (next page) Fooled ya! It’s a toy farm.
I would like to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not terrified and screaming like the other people in the car.
Prairie Home Companion by Garrison Keillor
1What a Writer Needs by Ralph Fletcher. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman, 1993.
Set-up LeadsSet up the action for the whole story in a few sentences. In the early days of America when men wore ruffles on their shirts and buckles on their shoes, when they rode horseback and swore allegiance to the King of England, there lived in Boston a man who cared for none of these things. His name was Samuel Adams. His clothes were shabby and plain, he refused to get on a horse, and he hated the King of England.
Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? by Jean Fritz
This is not a book about my life or yours. It does not hold the secret to success or salvation. It won’t strengthen your self-esteem. I don’t think it will get me on Oprah.
I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional by Wendy Kaminer
Talking Leads Maybe you want to start with a line or two of dialogue.
“Where is he?”
Barney hopped from one foot to the other as he clambered down from the train, peering through the white-faced crowds flooding eagerly to the St. Austel ticket barrier. “Oh, I can’t see him. Is he there?”
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
“Where is Papa going with that ax?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Thinking Leads Start with a thought inside a character or you. Mother taught me to be polite to dragons. Particularly polite, I mean; she taught me to be ordinarily polite to everyone. Well, it makes sense. With all the enchanted princesses and disguised wizards and transformed kings and so on wandering around, you never know whom you might be talking to. But dragons are a special case.
Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
As a boy, I never knew where my mother was from—where she was born, who her parents were.
The Color of Waterby James McBride
Up until I turned twelve years old, the kind of friends I had were what you’d expect. They were my own age more or less. Most of them were born here in Serenity along with me. And all of us went to the same school together.