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How do I Write a Persuasive Thesis Statement?

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  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2016
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Writing a persuasive thesis statement requires research, thoughtfulness, and skilled writing. Before developing a thesis statement, there must be a purpose behind the statement, an investment in the ideas that the writer is trying to convey. This purpose should come from the convictions of the writer, convictions that can be backed up with research. The research should be approached thoughtfully, in a manner that will help to back up and extend the assertions in the thesis statement. Finally — and this is one of the most difficult aspects for some people — a persuasive thesis statement should be written in clear, direct prose.

One of the first steps of writing a persuasive thesis statement is coming up with an idea for the thesis statement that can be backed up with research. For example, the following thesis statement may be based in conviction, but not in research: "My Antonia by Willa Cather is an interesting book about a fascinating woman." The writer may truly believe that My Antonia is interesting and that the heroine is fascinating, but the thesis statement is based on an emotional reaction to the book rather than research regarding the book or even research that backs up an emotional reaction.

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This next thesis statement, however, can be backed up with research: "My Antonia by Willa Cather represents a unique brand of feminism as it existed on the Nebraskan plains at the turn of the 20th century." Not only does this thesis statement root the novel in time and place, but it also uses a term common in literary analysis — feminism — to describe the heroine. Once this thesis statement has been crafted, the writer can go on to conduct more research to back up the statement.

For people who are still working on their writing abilities, it is advisable to use the advice of a teacher, professor, or campus writing tutor to help in the process of writing a persuasive thesis statement. Although there are some basic rules for good writing, it is not an exact science and it takes practice to learn how to make a well-crafted sentence. As such, it is best to work with experts while honing this craft. It is especially important to make sure that a paper includes a persuasive thesis statement because it is this statement that anchors the entire paper. Without a strong, persuasive thesis statement, the text of the paper as a whole may wander and arrive at dead ends.

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hamje32
Post 9

@David09 - That’s a good point; however it’s important to note that research alone does not suggest an angle. You can have volumes of research on a subject and yet have many different points of views or takes on that subject.

The thesis statement is something that is born out of opinion. You’re taking a stand, making an argument. Perhaps the argument may seem self explanatory from the research you’ve amassed, which I think is where you’re coming from, but the reality is not everyone will look at the same mountain of data the same way.

I think it’s important to articulate an argument, and then review the research to determine if indeed it can support your thesis. If not then you will have to revise your thesis statement until it’s compatible with your research.

David09
Post 8

I had to help my son with an essay just last night. I gave him useful pointers on how to craft his thesis statement, but each time he told me that the statement was either too broad or too specific.

I think that’s one of the balancing acts in the thesis statement. You want to make it general enough that it provides you with a lot of room to expound on all of the subtopics in the essay, yet specific enough that it communicates a clear, decisive point of view.

In my opinion, the best way to resolve this dilemma is to compile your research, and look for a dominant strand or theme that emerges from your notes. I believe that ultimately, something will stand out and the thesis statement will almost write itself, as it were.

wander
Post 7

@drtroubles - There are lots of books available on how to construct a thesis statement for a persuasive essay and you can find some excellent free guidelines online. Another idea for your son would be to hire a tutor, whether on campus or online.

A lot of graduate students tutor in their spare time and are pretty much experts on writing a good thesis. I think with a bit of extra help and practice are a great way to get him started. I know that most high schools don't spend enough time on making really great writers but there is no reason your son can't learn the skills.

drtroubles
Post 6

Does anyone know the best place to learn how to write a thesis statement for a persuasive essay?

My son has just entered college and is a bit overwhelmed by the quality of essays that are expected. Our high school clearly didn't do enough to prepare him for a higher level. While he is looking for a writing coach on campus I am hoping he can find something online that might be able to guide him through the process.

The typical high school essay with a hamburger paragraph introduction just doesn't cut it when you get to university. I'm really shocked that our secondary school teachers didn't move beyond that.

Mae82
Post 5

I've been working on my Master's degree for a little while now and how to write a thesis is still a hot topic. All professors seem to have their own requirements so it is best to follow the persuasive thesis statement examples that they present to you.

I find most of the differences come with what they expect you to include in the thesis and which materials are preferred for your work. By the time you reach the Master's level it is quite common to have to post your thesis in an open forum and have your classmates and professor offer suggestions and corrections. This kind of feedback is invaluable, though it can be quite stressful at times.

nextcorrea
Post 4

One of the biggest challenges when writing a persuasive thesis statement is to condense your argument into language that both communicates your intentions effectively, and also doesn't simply repeat the arguments you are about to make.

I remember that as a young writer I really struggled to find thesis statements that did not sound exactly like the words and phrases I was about to use to make my argument.Tthe thesis statement has to be related but unique. It is a sales pitch more than a summary.

tigers88
Post 3

One trick that an English teacher told me that has always helped my writing is to avoid the passive voice as much as possible. This is especially true in a persuasive thesis statement. You can't say that "you think" or that things are "probably". You have to state things with unwavering conviction, this is the only way to convince your audience that you believe in the argument you are about to make.

Avoiding the passive voice is easier for some than others. I know that I had to revise many thesis statement endlessly trying to get them to where they needed to be. But slowly my writing improved and my teacher agreed. Own your arguments. Its the job of the writer and thinker to take sides, work through complications and make a strong, definitive statement.

MissDaphne
Post 2

@EdRick - Your last sentence really hits the nail on the head! You can't write the *perfect* thesis until you've written the essay, and you can't write the best essay until you have a great thesis.

The trick is to think of writing as a recursive process, meaning you go back to steps you've already done. So you'll come up with the best thesis you can, and write the best essay you can. Then you read back over the essay and see where your thoughts were leading you. You use that to refine your thesis. Then, you use your new, sharper thesis to revise your essay! Repeat as often as necessary.

The steps to writing an essay won't be

the same for every writer. Regarding your son's particular difficulty, not being able to get his ideas in order, a free write might be the answer. With this method, your son will have an idea for his essay and will sit down and just write whatever comes into his head about it, not worrying about form. (He should still use the best grammar and punctuation he knows - no need to stop and look up words, but he should be using capitalization, periods at the ends of sentences, etc.) That might help him figure out his ideas on his topic.
EdRick
Post 1

My son is still in upper elementary school, but they are introducing him to the idea of essays with thesis statements. The problem he's having is it seems like they want him to do the thesis as basically the first step, but he has trouble getting his thoughts in order and has trouble making an outline, so that option (which his teacher suggested) is also not very helpful.

How can I help him find a place to start? It almost seems like you can't write the essay until you've written the thesis and can't write the thesis until you've written the rest of the essay!

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