If you’re enrolled in any type of college writing class, chances are you’re going to have to write a paper. What’s more, your professor is probably expecting you to be able to write a powerful, concise, focused thesis that will form the backbone of your paper. If you feel like you’ll never be able to do this, don’t lose hope. With a little bit of determination and patience, you’ll find writing a thesis is much easier (and more rewarding) than you ever thought possible.
In order to lay the groundwork for your paper, do your research on your particular topic and start formulating your ideas. What points do you want to focus on the most? What do you find most interesting or engaging? These will eventually form the paragraphs of your finished paper.
Once you’ve done the initial work of formulating and mentally articulating your ideas, start free-writing, which involves just sitting down and writing out your thoughts. Ideally, you should spend at least half an hour to an hour doing nothing but writing. At this stage, focus mostly getting your ideas on paper rather than focusing on organization issues. However, it will be useful if you put your thoughts into at least the beginning of paragraphs; this will make the final job of organization much easier when it comes time to produce the final draft.
Now that you’ve got some of your thoughts on paper, look for any underlying themes in what you’ve written. Is there an idea that seems to run through your paragraphs? If so, start crafting it into a solid claim, which will eventually be your thesis (which should be located near the beginning of your essay.) Make sure that you make a specific claim, such as television serves to perpetuate notions that violence is acceptable and even positive, as indicated by numerous series portraying murder and other forms of violence. Notice how this thesis makes a specific claim, as opposed to television is too violent, which doesn’t involve any critical thinking on your part.
Having developed your working thesis, start reorganizing your essay so that it is more coherent. Make sure that each of your paragraphs relates back to your overall claim. Every paragraph should more fully develop the thesis you’ve laid out at the beginning of the paper. Does any of the evidence that you’ve uncovered contradict or complicate the thesis that you have just developed? If so, tweak/expand your thesis to take into account of these pieces of evidence. A good thesis will evolve as you write your paper.
Although writing a thesis can be challenging at first, you’ll find that having a strong thesis will tie your paper together and enable you to fully develop and explore your ideas. Regardless of your major, the ability to completely and effectively explore and explain your ideas will be a very valuable tool for writing papers. These skills will also prove useful as you move out of the college world and into the workforce. Written communication is a vital skill, and once you have it you’ll always find it valuable.