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Part I: The Thesis Statement Part II: Nuts and Bolts
Elements of an Essay Part I: The Thesis Statement Part II: Nuts and Bolts Summarized, gathered and extrapolated from the University of North Carolina’s Paper- Writing Instructional Handouts.
Part I: The Thesis Statement
Effective composition of your thesis.
A Thesis Statement… tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel. makes a claim that others might dispute. is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.
Writing Your Thesis Statement
1.Determine what kind of paper you are writing: An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience. An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience. An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided. If you are writing a text which does not fall under these three categories (ex. a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader. 2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence. 3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper. 4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.
How Strong is Your Thesis?
Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it's possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument. Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like "good" or "successful," see if you could be more specific: why is something "good"; what specifically makes something "successful"?
How Strong Is Your Thesis?
4. Does my thesis pass the "So what?" test? If a reader's first response is, "So what?" then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue. 5. Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It's o.k. to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary. 6. Does my thesis pass the "how and why?" test? If a reader's first response is "how?" or "why?" your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.
Sample Thesis Statements
Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel. In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore. Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain's Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave "civilized" society and go back to nature.
AKA- Pieces of Your Paper
Part II: Nuts and Bolts AKA- Pieces of Your Paper
Basic Organization: Outline
Sample Outline: Introduction Background Thesis Statement Transition Body Paragraphs Separate topics drawn from thesis statement Effective transitions between body paragraphs Conclusion Transition to conclusion Summary of what has been discussed Final statement (Translated) This Is What I’m Going to Say What it is My Point On to the main event This Is Me Saying It, and Making you Believe it Part 1 (2, 3) of My Point On to the next reason I’m right. This Is What We Now Believe This is what I’ve said. This is why I said it. This is what we’ve discovered.
Introduction Begin with information relevant to the topic.
Examples: general background of subject (event, person, place); short (one or two sentence summary) of a work of literature; relevant quote (use sparingly, try to quote work being discussed); definition (especially effective for argumentation papers) Thesis Statement: see Part I Transition to next paragraph Do not assume that your thesis statement is automatically your transition. Give reader some idea as to what will be discussed first.
Body Paragraphs: Definition
What is a Paragraph? "a group of sentences or a single sentence that forms a unit“ of harmonious and coherent ideas between its sentences Usually focused on one specific aspect of the thesis statement Every paragraph in a paper should be Unified - The sentences should all refer to the main idea, or thesis, of the paper (Rosen and Behrens 119). Coherent-The sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follow a definite plan for development (Rosen and Behrens 119). Well-Developed - Every idea discussed in the paragraph should be adequately explained and supported through evidence and details that work together to explain the paper's controlling idea (Rosen and Behrens 119).
Body Paragraphs: Two Important Parts
Topic Sentences – A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main idea of a paragraph. It tells the reader what to expect about the information that will follow. Without the use of a topic sentence, developing a paragraph can be extremely difficult. Topic sentences can appear at several points in a paragraph. Transitions – Transitions come in the form of single words, phrases, sentences, and even whole paragraphs. They help to establish relationships between ideas in a paragraph and to create a logical progression of those ideas in a paragraph. Without transitions, your paragraph will not be unified, coherent, or well developed.
Body Paragraphs: Step By Step
Controlling idea the expression of the main idea, topic, or focus of the paragraph in a sentence or a collection of sentences. Explanation of controlling idea the writer's rationale into his/her thinking about the main topic, idea, or focus of the paragraph Example the example serves as a sign or representation of the relationship established in the idea and explanation portions of the paragraph Explanation (of example) the reasoning behind why you chose to use this/or these particular examples as evidence to support the major claim, or focus, in your paragraph. Completion of Paragraph's idea or transition into next paragraph a review for your reader about the relevance of the information that you just discussed in the paragraph, or a transition or preparation for your reader for the paragraph that follows. PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE ARE NOT NECESSARILY ONE SENTENCE EACH, THEY MAY BE MORE OR LESS, DEPENDING UPON YOUR STYLE AND TOPIC.
Conclusions Your conclusion is your chance to have the last word on the subject. Your conclusion can go beyond the confines of the assignment. The conclusion pushes beyond the boundaries of the prompt and allows you to consider broader issues, make new connections, and elaborate on the significance of your findings. Your conclusion should make your readers glad they read your paper.
Play the "So What" Game. If you're stuck and feel like your conclusion isn't saying anything new or interesting, read each statement and ask “so what” or “why should anybody care?” in much the same fashion as you might for a thesis statement. Use your answers to strengthen your conclusion. Return to the theme or themes in the introduction. Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for your paper. Synthesize, don't summarize: Include a brief summary of the paper's main points, but don't simply repeat things that were in your paper. Instead, show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together. Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study. Point to broader implications of your topic.
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