What is a thesis statement?
Step one: Start with the Prompt!
In order to write a thesis statement you must have
- a subject - usually the abstract portion of the writing prompt, such as characterization, tone, theme, mood etc.
- your opinion about that subject
- the concrete element - the literary device(s) that provide evidence to support your opinion. An effective thesis statement makes an assertion, the writer must offer evidence about what the writer believes to be true about the abstract portion of the prompt. Because the assertion is the writer's opinion, the writer must offer evidence to back up the assertion. The thesis statement lets the reader of the essay know form the very beginning what the writer intends to prove in his or her essay.
Sample prompt: Read the passage carefully. In a well written essay, explain how the author uses imagery, figurative language, and detail to characterize Scrooge.
You must answer the questions of the prompt: however, DO NOT just reword the prompt.
What are the questions of this prompt?
- What kind of character is Scrooge?
- What literary elements reveal that characterization? (the concrete)
- What is your opinion about Scrooge's character?
Here is a thesis statement that is typical of many beginning writers:
In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the author uses many different types of figurative language to characterize Scrooge.
- What is the subject (the abstract element)? characterization of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
- What literary elements (the concrete) reveal that characterization? figurative language
- What is the writer's opinion about Scrooge's character? This key element of a thesis is missing; there is no opinion given. This thesis simply restates the prompt.
Here is a thesis statement that answers the questions of the prompt.
1. What is the subject (the abstract element)? characterization of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol
2. What literary elements (the concrete) reveal that characterization? figurative language
3. What is the writer's opinion about Scrooge's character? This writer answer the abstract part of the prompt by stating that Scrooge is greedy and cold- hearted.