As a former English major and current graduate student, I am aware that essay writing tends to be the process which students find the most aggravating and problematic. This can be the case for many reasons, including the fact that many people are accustomed to expressing their ideas verbally rather than in written format. For this reason and many others, students faced with the task of writing an essay often find themselves feeling miserable and unconfident during the process. This does not have to be the case if one simply implements sound essay-writing principles. Here is the most important one:
Develop A Clear Thesis.
This is the most important piece of advice for many reasons, one of which I will discuss here. When you are writing a traditional essay, one of the primary goals is to present clear and compelling evidence indicating why your position on any given matter is logical. Doing so necessitates that you have a position. This position should be stated in the thesis. This fact becomes plain when one considers the definition of a thesis: a thesis is a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections. Thus, it is through clearly stating your proposition or position in the thesis that informs your reader of the primary argument you will be articulating and defending throughout the essay. In addition to making your primary argument plain to the reader almost immediately, developing a clear thesis gives you a rough outline for the entire essay because you will be centering the work around the primary claim (thesis) you are explaining and defending.
Last year, I wrote an essay based on the character Eddie Willers from Ayn Rand’s important book Atlas Shrugged. Entitled ‘Atlas Shrugged:’ Analyzing the Philosophical Suppositions of Eddie Willers, the essay was primarily about how Willers was continually caught between two ideological worlds: While one was marked by a culture of indifference and mediocrity in which excellence was shunned, the other consisted of individuals ascribing to a rugged individualism that placed primacy upon getting ahead through working independently of others. I discussed how these clashing systems of thought affected Eddie Willers in the first paragraph of the essay. There, my thesis read thus:
“… his role in the story is to underscore the novel’s theme of how immersion in a world of apathetic collectivism precludes individuals with a desire for excellence from realizing personal happiness through hard work and independent effort.”
Here, the idea that I will explore and examine throughout the paper is stated in one clear and concise sentence that lets the reader know exactly what I think about the role that Eddie Willers plays in the novel. By stating my thesis in this very plain fashion at the beginning of the essay, my reader immediately gains a clear understanding of my position on the subject at hand. He or she is then prepared to read the justificatory claims I have devised to defend the legitimacy of my view.
As stated earlier, developing a clear thesis is integral to writing a great essay. I believe the information I have shared above regarding this matter will help you greatly. Good luck!
Jocelyn Crawley holds B.A. degrees in English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Dead Beats, Four and Twenty, The Idiom, and Haggard and Halloo. Other stories are forthcoming in Faces of Feminism, Thrice Fiction and Calliope.