Writing Theses: A Consultant’s Perspective

By:  Lindsy Sullivan

Developing a thesis can be tricky, and sometimes it can be the hardest part of writing a paper. During my time as a writing consultant, I’ve realized that not every trick works for every student; everyone learns differently. This prompted me to interview my fellow writing consultants, hoping to hear some of their own tips for writing theses. Here are their suggestions:

Annie: First, ask yourself what interests you. Next, ask yourself why that topic interests you, and then brainstorm a rough thesis.

* Writing about something you find uninteresting can make generating a thesis significantly more difficult. If the assignment’s prompt is bringing you down, try to think about the topic from several perspectives – you may be surprised to find an aspect of the topic interests you.

Tyler: Strive to develop a very specific thesis, and while you’re writing your paper, always stop to ask yourself if you are answering the thesis. This tactic helps you to avoid going off topic.

* Going off topic is easy when writing. If you find yourself drifting from the paper’s purpose, don’t worry – just refocus.

Jessica: Before you start writing anything, always read the prompt. Also, be willing to revise your thesis throughout the writing process. If you go back and see that the argument being made in your paper is not what you thought, be willing to edit your thesis accordingly.

* Failing to read the prompt can be detrimental to your grade, so before you do anything else, read the prompt! After finishing your paper, read it over to make sure the content supports your thesis properly. If you find that your paper doesn’t match your thesis, consider revising your thesis to better suit what you’re attempting to say.

Luis: When I’m stuck, I write an intro first, and then a rough thesis helps to get the paper started.

* Writing an intro before developing your thesis can help you focus on your topic and formulate a direction for the paper.

Logan: A thesis isn’t set in stone. If it doesn’t work, don’t force it.

* Often, writers forget that at thesis is easily changed. If a thesis isn’t making sense or doing what you want it to do, change it. Don’t be afraid of editing, editing, and editing again.

Cory: Make sure your thesis is arguable or opinionated. You should be able answer why people should care about what your thesis is discussing.

* A thesis without substance will cause your audience to be uninterested or bored. Even if your assignment topic is bland, arguing your stance effectively can help save your paper.

As I said before, these tricks won’t always work for everyone. It’s important to try new strategies and use the one that benefits you the most. Developing theses, like most things, becomes easier with practice. Even if you feel hopeless, remember that all writers have to start somewhere.

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