The thesis statement is that sentence or two in your text that contains the focus of your essay and tells your reader what the essay is going to be about. Many writers think of a thesis statement as an umbrella: everything that you carry along in your essay has to fit under this umbrella, and if you try to take on packages that don't fit, you will either have to get a biggerumbrella or something's going to get wet.
The thesis statement usually appears near the beginning of a paper. It can be the first sentence of an essay, but that often feels like a simplistic, unexciting beginning. It more frequently appears at or near the end of the first paragraph or two. Here is the first paragraph of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s essay The Crisis of American Masculinity. Noticehow everything drives the reader toward the last sentence and how that last sentence clearly signals what the rest of this essay is going to do.
|What has happened to the American male? For a long time, he seemed utterly confident in his manhood, sure of his masculine role in |
|society, easy and definite in his sense of sexual identity. The frontiersmen of James Fenimore Cooper, for example,never had any |
|concern about masculinity; they were men, and it did not occur to them to think twice about it. Even well into the twentieth |
|century, the heroes of Dreiser, of Fitzgerald, of Hemingway remain men. But one begins to detect a new theme emerging in some of |
|these authors, especially in Hemingway: the theme of the male hero increasingly preoccupied with proving hisvirility to himself. |
|And by mid-century, the male role had plainly lost its rugged clarity of outline. Today men are more and more conscious of maleness|
|not as a fact but as a problem. The ways by which American men affirm their masculinity are uncertain and obscure. There are |
|multiplying signs, indeed, that something has gone badly wrong with the American male's conception ofhimself. |
Avoid announcing the thesis statement as if it were a thesis statement. In other words, avoid using phrases such as "The purpose of this paper is . . . .” or "In this paper, I will attempt to . . . ." Such phrases betray this paper to be the work of an amateur. If necessary, write the thesis statement that way the first time; it might help you determine, in fact, thatthis is your thesis statement. But when you rewrite your paper, eliminate the bald assertion that this is your thesis statement and write the statement itself without that annoying, unnecessary preface.
Using Hooks in your Introduction
As seen in the paragraph above, the thesis statement doesn’t always have to be the first sentence in a paragraph. In fact, good writers often use tactics toset up their thesis statement and build up to it. These are called hooks, and depend on creativity to be effective.
There are several types of hooks:
Anecdote: A personal experience that is used to make a point. This brings the piece of writing closer to home and makes it appear more human and natural.
Facts & Examples: Depending on your topic, you can use facts and examples to bring homethe reality of what you’re trying to say. This gives a sense of irrefutability to what your piece and establishes it as something to take seriously.
Statistics: Just as with facts and examples, statistics make your piece appear more real. Many people feel that any number of life's crises cannot or will not happen to them. Bad things happen to other people--not us. Making startling statisticspersonally relevant can open readers' minds to the possibility of tragedy hitting home and make readers more receptive to your message. For example, stating that "four billion people are diagnosed with HIV" is startling; however, stating that in any given college classroom, statistically "one in every four students will be diagnosed HIV positive," is a much more personally relevant statistic. They...