Good Thesis Statement For A Novel

Tips and tricks to writing a thesis statement

Movie buffs know that great films grab the viewer with a compelling opening scene. Bookworms can tell a best-selling novel from a dud within the first few paragraphs. The same is true of any term paper or research paper. You must provide a clear, insightful thesis statement in the introductory paragraph in order to engage the reader's interest.

That sounds easy enough, but when you're starting a topic that asks you to "Evaluate Thomas Carew's depiction of John Donne as the monarch of wit" or "Compare and contrast two political historians' views of the U.S. Constitution," crafting a complete yet pointed response can feel daunting. Use the following guidelines and examples from our research paper and essay editing staff to help you narrow your focus and write an excellent thesis statement.

Write about your interests

If at all possible, within the constraints of your topic, choose a subject that offers you some enjoyment. For example, if you are free to write on any of the novels discussed during the term, write on the ones you liked best (or hated the least). If the topic asks you to analyze a character, pick the one who angered you the most or seemed most like you. You'll have more opinions if you have some attachment to the topic. In subjects that bore you to tears, choose the approach that offers the most pieces of evidence, e.g., the longest book, the topic your professor spent the most time on, etc.

Unearth evidence for your research paper

When you have a general idea of what you hope to discuss, start searching for facts to back up your case. Pore over the texts, your notes, and approved secondary sources for arguments that support your theory. Remember that all good papers aim to prove a point, and you'll do that successfully only if you have evidence to back up your claims. A preliminary fact-finding mission will help you determine the validity of your theory. It will also provide ideas to shape the thesis statement.

Thesis Statement Examples

A poor thesis statement usually has one or more of the following characteristics: 1) it merely restates the topic, 2) it offers superfluous information as padding for its lack of specificity, or 3) it is so generic that you could insert it into any paper. Read the theses below, with one generic and one specific example for each of the two topics mentioned above, and consider the differences.

An English literature example:

Thomas Carew, a contemporary of the poet John Donne, said that Donne was the king of wit and that means he used his humor and intelligence to show his opinion of things in his time. (Generic)

Thomas Carew's depiction of John Donne as "The universal monarch of wit" declares the supremacy of the poet's humor and intelligence in relation to contemporary circles. However, such a depiction fails to consider Donne's shortcomings and his conversational approach to writing. (Specific)

A social science example:

John Roche and Charles Beard had different views of the U.S. Constitution because they had different backgrounds. (Generic)

The polar backgrounds of John Roche and Charles Beard serve to form their quite distinct views of the U.S. Constitution. An analysis of their arguments shows Roche to be a dedicated and intelligent reformer, whereas Beard portrays a calculating desire to undermine America's poor. (Specific)

Thesis statements require editing too

After completing your paper, reread your thesis. Is it still a comprehensive road map of your ideas? Did you develop a new line of thinking that does not appear in your thesis statement? Good writers often find themselves exploring new avenues of thought along the way. If, for whatever reason, your thesis no longer matches the body of your paper, change the thesis. This is a completely acceptable proposition and one that is much simpler than rewriting entire sections of your paper. You can also submit your paper to our essay editors for a second opinion on your paper's arguments.

Don't postpone the inevitable

You may be tempted to leave the difficult work of honing your thesis statement until after you've written the first draft of your paper; however, laboring over it at the beginning of the essay writing process will make your life easier. Once you know where your paper is headed and what you are trying to prove, the writing process will flow much more smoothly than if you launch yourself into the labyrinth without a guide.

Want to learn more? Take our online essay writing course today.

Image source: Robert Wiedemann/Unsplash.com

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A thesis can be found in many places—a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay.

Whether you’re writing an argumentative paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument falls flat and your information is unfocused. Since a thesis is so important, it’s probably a good idea to look at some tips on how to put together a strong one.

What is a “thesis statement” anyway?

You may have heard of something called a “thesis.” It’s what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes years to piece together.

Instead, we’re talking about a single sentence that ties together the main idea of any argument. In the context of student essays, it’s a statement that summarizes your topic and declares your position on it. This sentence can tell a reader whether your essay is something they want to read.

2 Categories of Thesis Statements: Informative and Persuasive

Just as there are different types of essays, there are different types of thesis statements. The thesis should match the essay.

For example, with an informative essay, you should compose an informative thesis (rather than argumentative). You want to declare your intentions in this essay and guide the reader to the conclusion that you reach.

Example:

To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you must procure the ingredients, find a knife, and spread the condiments.

This thesis showed the reader the topic (a type of sandwich) and the direction the essay will take (describing how the sandwich is made).

Most other types of essays, whether compare/contrast, argumentative, or narrative, have thesis statements that take a position and argue it. In other words, unless your purpose is simply to inform, your thesis is considered persuasive. A persuasive thesis usually contains an opinion and the reason why your opinion is true.

Example:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the best type of sandwich because they are versatile, easy to make, and taste good.

In this persuasive thesis statement, you see that I state my opinion (the best type of sandwich), which means I have chosen a stance. Next, I explain that my opinion is correct with several key reasons. This persuasive type of thesis can be used in any essay that contains the writer’s opinion, including, as I mentioned above, compare/contrast essays, narrative essays, and so on.

 2 Styles of Thesis Statements

Just as there are two different types of thesis statements (informative and persuasive), there are two basic styles you can use.

The first style uses a list of two or more points. This style of thesis is perfect for a brief essay that contains only two or three body paragraphs. This basic five-paragraph essay is typical of middle and high school assignments.

Example:

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the richest works of the 20th century because it offers an escape from reality, teaches readers to have faith even when they don’t understand, and contains a host of vibrant characters.

In the above persuasive thesis, you can see my opinion about Narnia followed by three clear reasons. This thesis is perfect for setting up a tidy five-paragraph essay.

In college, five paragraph essays become few and far between as essay length gets longer. Can you imagine having only five paragraphs in a six-page paper? For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile. Instead of listing two or three distinct points, a thesis can list one overarching point that all body paragraphs tie into.

Example:

Good vs. evil is the main theme of Lewis’s Narnia series, as is made clear through the struggles the main characters face in each book.

In this thesis, I have made a claim about the theme in Narnia followed by my reasoning. The broader scope of this thesis allows me to write about each of the series’ seven novels. I am no longer limited in how many body paragraphs I can logically use.

Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis

One thing I find that is helpful for students is having a clear template. While students rarely end up with a thesis that follows this exact wording, the following template creates a good starting point:

___________ is true because of ___________, ___________, and ___________.

 

Conversely, the formula for a thesis with only one point might follow this template:

___________________ is true because of _____________________.

 

Students usually end up using different terminology than simply “because,” but having a template is always helpful to get the creative juices flowing.

The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement

When composing a thesis, you must consider not only the format, but other qualities like length, position in the essay, and how strong the argument is.

Length: A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence. It does contain at least two clauses, usually an independent clause (the opinion) and a dependent clause (the reasons). You probably should aim for a single sentence that is at least two lines, or about 30 to 40 words long.

Position: A thesis statement always belongs at the beginning of an essay. This is because it is a sentence that tells the reader what the writer is going to discuss. Teachers will have different preferences for the precise location of the thesis, but a good rule of thumb is in the introduction paragraph, within the last two or three sentences.

Strength: Finally, for a persuasive thesis to be strong, it needs to be arguable. This means that the statement is not obvious, and it is not something that everyone agrees is true.

Example of weak thesis:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make because it just takes three ingredients.

Most people would agree that PB&J is one of the easiest sandwiches in the American lunch repertoire.

Example of a stronger thesis:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are fun to eat because they always slide around.

This is more arguable because there are plenty of folks who might think a PB&J is messy or slimy rather than fun.

Composing a thesis statement does take a bit more thought than many other parts of an essay. However, because a thesis statement can contain an entire argument in just a few words, it is worth taking the extra time to compose this sentence. It can direct your research and your argument so that your essay is tight, focused, and makes readers think.


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