Creative Writing

Creating an Effective Thesis Statement

Posted on

The thesis statement seems to be the most challenging sentence in any essay or research paper for my students to create. They don’t know whether to write it first—before the rest of their paper—or at the end. I tell them something they don’t want to hear: both.
When you start writing, you should have a pretty good idea of the angle you want your paper to take. However, your thesis statement may change as you write and research your subject. Depending on how much you change your mind about the topic, your thesis may change a little or a lot.

The thesis statement gives meaning to every other sentence in your essay. It presents your paper’s topic and controlling idea. It is the road map to the rest of your paper, and all roads should lead back to your thesis statement. Your thesis is located in your introduction paragraph and the remainder of your paper (and topic sentences) should support your thesis statement. If part of your paper does not support your thesis, it should not be part of your paper.
When drafting your thesis statement, keep these points in mind:
1. It should be a full sentence, not just the topic or title

2. It should provide some direction, an opinion, or a point of view
Let’s say your instructor has given you the topic of ‘American politics,’ and you would like to write about the seniority system in American politics. An incorrect thesis statement on this topic would be: “A seniority system exists in today’s American politics.”
This is insufficient because the writer’s point of view is not incorporated into the thesis. We can turn a flat or factual statement into a thesis statement by including a point of view or our own slant on the issue.
Look at these two examples of effective thesis statements:
1. “The seniority system in American politics contributes to unwarranted power being controlled by the old timers.” This statement has a negative slant or point of view about the American political system.

2. “The seniority system in American politics grants leadership positions to experienced politicians.” This statement has a positive slant or point of view about the American political system.
The key to creating an effective thesis is knowing what you want to say about your subject matter. If you have given yourself enough time to read and research your topic, you will have a better grasp of what you want to say, and you will be more likely to produce a thesis that is clear, organized, and fully developed. Good luck!
By: Dawn S., On Demand Editor for editorr

Content Editing

The People vs. The English Language

Posted on

Occasionally (or maybe not so occasionally), I am called out for being a “nag” when it comes to proper word usage. In my former life as a litigator, I became accustomed to pointing out and correcting every instance of improper spelling, grammar, and word usage. Words mean something. Their meanings mean something. Nothing grinds my gears more than the flippant (or even blatant) misuse of a perfectly well-meaning word. Except maybe the overuse of said word.

Not everything is “amazing” or “awesome.” The overuse of some words can eventually lead to their degradation. Be honest, when you use the word, “amazing,” do you really mean that something or someone caused you astonishment, great wonder, or surprise? I doubt it. What about “awesome?” Suzy’s new jeans may be very on trend, but do they really “inspire awe?”

Words are literally man’s best friend. By the way, I am not using the word “literally” here to be ironic. I’m completely serious. Without the spoken word (and okay, maybe the wheel and the iPhone), where would the human race even be today? Sure, we still have a long way to go towards world peace, but language offers human beings a truly awe inspiring (see what I did there?) leg up when it comes to communication, task management, and even self-expression.

I would never claim to have the most advanced or broad vocabulary. I know (and use) far too many pointless acronyms and millenialisms for my own good. But at the same time, with every word we acquire, we grant ourselves that much more freedom; that much more clarity.

Everyone has heard the somewhat dubious claim that Eskimos have something like 50+ words for snow. But think about that. Think about how freeing it must be to be able to describe the exact color, temperature, texture, and gravity of each and every weather pattern. Think how few snow-based miscommunications are likely to occur in these cultures. What’s to argue about when both sides understand exactly what is being discussed?

When we use words as they were intended, we present the best possible chance for effective communication. When we use words interchangeably and with no thought to the intention behind their conception, we are communicating something entirely different: ignorance, laziness, and even arrogance.

There is no shame in an honest mistake or misquote. There is, however, something truly saddening about the passive (or even intentional) cheapening of our words. Don’t get me wrong, I may shout “YAAASS KWEEN” with the best of them, but I’d never be caught dead uttering the “word,” irregardless.

By: Liz S., On Demand Editor for editorr