Writing 411: The thesis statement

The thesis statement is the most challenging for me to write. Every. Time.

And Im not sure why! I mean, I think I do fairly well when it comes to writing. My essay papers tend to stay within the A to A- range. I did have a paper or two that’s gotten a B+ but that’s usually due to formatting issues and I did have a paper that got a low B because I didn’t use the required amount of sources.  And I’m not saying this to brag or anything, but the one issue that usually stops me from getting an A+ is because while I had a strong intro, my thesis lacked structure or my thesis was weak. And that would be very accurate because when I write my papers, I never start off with a thesis. I just jump into it.

Well, if you know what’s wrong why don’t you fix it? It’s simple enough.

No it’s not! *says in a whiney voice*. It’s not simple for me. The one time I actually put thought into my paper, I got a B. I actually thought it through and got it done early enough for me to proofread it twice and I got a B! Serves me right for not procrastinating. But I’m serious. If I start too early or think about it too much, I don’t do so well. And it’s because of this that I just jump right into and start writing. I read through the material, come up with a basic outline–more or less, and then just start writing. And actually, I don’t study the material every day until I’m ready to write, I usually just read it through a time or two when I first get the assignment and then I think on it. I let it sit in my mind until I’m ready to write and then I review the materials again.

You’re avoiding the question. You know you’re weak on thesis statements, so why don’t you fix it?

I suppose I am making excuses to avoid the question. Truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know why I can’t fix it. Which is why I’m writing this post so I can think things through seriously enough to sit down and think about it.

General outline of a thesis, according to Purdue OWL (and I’m using Purdue because my course syllabi loves to reference Purdue OWL a lot. Everyone of them):

  • The thesis statement must be debatable – For the most part, I think I get this.
  • The thesis needs to be narrow – Fail. I fail miserably on this is. I mean, I have a hard time narrowing things down and I think it’s because I don’t know what direction I want to take until I’m already on that road.
  • Figure out the type of claim that fits you’re argument
    1. Claims of fact or definition
    2. Claims of cause and effect
    3. Claims about value
    4. Claims about solutions and policies

If I can follow these three simple rules I should be able to reach that A+, right?

Sighs. One could hope. I could only hope. Anyway, another thing to keep in mind is that thesis statements are like road maps to your paper. And this I understand. I do my best to make sure my intro covers a basic outline of what my paper will be on, which is why I usually get high marks for organization. Just that darned thesis statement.

Hopefully writing this out in a post will help seal it in my brain. I can do this. I got this … right?


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