Finding Your Thesis

When getting started on a new essay or research paper, writers often will sit in front of blank pieces of paper or empty computer screens and feel as if their minds suddenly have been drained of thought. They may say to themselves, for example, "I know I want to write something about the US Presidency, but I'm not certain where to start or what to say exactly. Which ideas are most important? Which ones should I ignore? How do I choose? What's my purpose? It's such a huge topic!" This frustration is common to all writers, and it merely requires a small effort to sift patiently through the details of an issue by practicing a few key strategies useful to developing a thesis.

A thesis is the central and guiding idea of an essay. Once a working thesis has been established, a writer can then focus the subsequent development of the essay upon the specific goals dictated by this central idea.

This page shows the student how to develop and refine a thesis by offering a process for organizing one's thoughts. It addresses the following strategies: