How To Write a Good Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the main point you want your readers to accept.  It expresses an arguable point and supplies good reasons why readers should accept it. After learning about making an arguable point and supplying good reasons, go to planning the thesis-driven essay.

The Arguable Point

Making a thesis arguable requires a statement that promotes degrees of adherence.  In other words, a good thesis takes a stand on an issue in which a range of responses are possible, and no matter what your point is, it will likely produce a range of responses, from strong agreement to strong disagreement.  For instance, if you were to argue that the government should fund solar energy development, you have a contention that some will agree with whole-heartedly.  Others will disagree just as vigorously.  Still others–indeed most–will not have a strong response and might even consider themselves “neutral,” or leaning one way or the other.  How well you persuade readers to accept your point depends on the good reasons you have for your position. 

Good Reasons

In a nutshell, why should readers accept your point?  These reasons are often the “main points” that support your thesis and provide structure to each section of your paper, whether those sections are single paragraphs or groups of paragraphs.  Some of the reasons you have for a contention occur to you spontaneously.  For instance, you may think that the government should fund solar energy development because solar energy promises to be clean (less pollution) and renewable (the sun should last another five billion years, right?).  That’s a good start, but it’s not enough. 

While we may spontaneously generate reasons for our central contention, thinking of “the other side” can often help you create an even better thesis.  We call this habit of thinking otherwise “dialogical thinking,” because you imagine yourself in dialogue with others.  Going back to our example, the contention that the government should fund this enterprise is likely to make some disagree, or at least ask why the government should fund it:  shouldn’t companies risk their own money to make this happen?  Isn’t that what free-enterprise is all about?  Answering those questions can provide more good reasons and lead to a fuller thesis statement: 

Because solar technology might be too costly and risky for private industry to develop, the government should fund solar energy development to secure a clean, renewable energy source for our future. 

Taken together, the good reasons surrounding this contention can supply the building blocks for the paper:  1) Solar is clean; 2) Solar is renewable; 3) Solar needs vast support to become a reality.  You may note that some of your reasons may be easier to prove than others.  Most readers will likely agree solar energy is clean and renewable, if proper evidence is presented. The stickier issues may be the ways our society achieves these desirable ends.