Thesis Statement, Anyone? The Power of a Strong Opening Paragraph

The stronger your Thesis Statement, the easier your life writing the rest of the essay. That’s why you should probably spend about as much time writing your thesis statement as it takes you to write the body of the paper.

If your opening paragraph (which should include your thesis statement and, preferably, nothing else) is weak, then as you write your support, you’ll be struggling thinking what else to write all the time. If your first paragraph is strong, it’s a whole ‘nother world. Observe:

What are the attributes of a weak Thesis Statement?

  • A lengthy introduction (which makes it hard for the reader to find the main point)
  • Fuzzy main point (it’s not clear what exactly it is)
  • Doesn’t offer a way to see the whole picture of the paper

And here’s an example of a WEAK Thesis Statement:

Many people believe that Dominican Republic is a wonderful vacation spot. It offers great beaches with beautiful sands and lots of attractive activities for people of all ages. That’s why people from all over the world make this part of the world their favorite vacation spot. My opinion of it is not quite the same.

So, what is the main point, really? What is the essay going to be proving? Is it going to first describe how great a vacation in Dominican Republic can be? Or will it focus only on the ‘not quite the same opinion’ of the author, which is a mystery anyway, at this point.

Furthermore, what if the writer focuses only on that ‘mystery opinion’ in the body of the essay without ever discussing all the positive points that were listed in the first couple of sentences? Then the whole shebang in the very beginning about how great a vacation in DR can be is just fluff. It becomes an intro that really has nothing to do with the main point.

If I were the writer of this essay, I would struggle with coming up with material while writing the body, because I would be fuzzy about my point all along. I would have to strain my brain in every sentence and paragraph because I never planned my whole point in advance.

Now, what are the attributes of a STRONG Thesis Statement?

  • Gets to the point as early as possible
  • Offers a clear main point (it’s impossible to miss it – it’s that clear and direct)
  • Offers the reader the big picture of the entire structure of the essay (helps the reader ‘get it’)

Let’s take a look at an example of a STRONG thesis statement:

In spite of a couple of minor setbacks, a vacation in Dominican Republic can be totally awesome. There is not much sight-seeing (A), and the weather (B) may disappoint in the wrong time of the year. But beautiful sandy beaches (C), excellent food (D), and twenty-four-hour entertainment (E) are bound to make it a winner.

Now, what is so advantageous about writing a thesis statement like this? And what are these capital letters about?

Well, this opening paragraph shows that you have a crystal clear idea of what you’re talking about. Now, all you have to do is write a paragraph (or more, if needed) on each of the points marked by the capital letters, and you have yourself an essay. Here’s the overall structure:

Thesis Statement: In Spite of A and B, Dominican Republic is great because of C, D, and E.

Paragraph 1: A – Not much sight-seeing

Paragraph 2: B – Weather can disappoint

BUT:

Paragraph 3: C – Beaches are beautiful

Paragraph 4: D Food is delicious

Paragraph 5: E Entertainment is 24-hours

And now, just fill in the blanks, so to speak. Just write one paragraph at a time, and your essay is done. Simple enough?

If you’re wondering about the Conclusion Paragraph, just consult this post:

How to Cut Paragraphs of Needless Work in 1 Easy Step

Questions? Comments? Post ‘em here.

Tutor Phil

FREE Report Reveals an EASY Technique to Add 300 Words to ANY Essay In 15 Minutes!

Comments

  1. TutorPhil says

    Dear Arumairathnam,

    I decided to post this here for you because this is relevant to your request. As you get to know me better, you’ll see that I’m a huge fan of relevance, among other things.

    So, you requested for me to look over your essay that I have in your email. I won’t post the entire thing here, but only the first few paragraphs which, as it looks to me, constitute your thesis statement (although I could be wrong). :)

    So, this was the essay question:

    Should Books Instruct or Entertain?

    And this is your thesis:

    “Books are always with man from the stone age to the papyrus age of the present days. They are also like humans. Some are entertaining and some others are instructive, serious and pedagogic. There are friends, teachers, preachers and philosophers among them. They guide us towards our target goals in life through the way they ‘speak’ with us — instructive or entertaining.

    The books on Science, Medicine, Technology, Philosophy and Engineering are considered highly instructive and academic and they seriously expect a maturity from the readers on the respective disciplines they deal with.

    The books deal with fiction, genres of literature, historical events in countries, biographies, autobiographies and on explorations and discoveries come under the entertaining category.

    However, the books, whether they are academic or amusing they are produced after a lengthy brain work and creativeness.Therefore, we should analyze what is the common factor between these two categories of books. Generally, we find that the “motivation” to read and acquire the knowledge of the subject matter a book deals with is the common factor to adjudge the book. ”

    Again, maybe you meant only the very first paragraph to be your thesis statement – let me know if that’s the case.

    But in any case, let’s agree from now on to keep the entire thesis statement in the first paragraph. In other words, let’s not break it down into multiple paragraphs, as that can be confusing.

    Here are several excerpts from your essay that are general statements that either support the main point or are supported by some evidence:

    “A good book does both of these functions — instructing and entertaining.”

    “Further, identifying the book as an instructive or entertaining one depends on the reader’s mental attitude.”

    “Then, one may question whether a whole academic discipline can be taught through some books with fluidity, wise-cracks and humour for the sake of just entertaining the reader. Of course, not.”

    “In this view, the present day educational course designs insist the improvement of knowledge through entertainment.”

    “Therefore, books should be both instructive and entertaining in creating motivation towards an individual’s target goals in life.”

    Okay – let’s stop there. As you can see, these statements don’t necessarily coalesce into one clearly stated point. In other words, as a result of reading the essay, I’m still not sure what to think – should books instruct, entertain, or both (under certain circumstances). And most importantly, this main point is not stated clearly in the first not one, but four paragraphs.

    The article above (under which I’m posting this) contains a very to-the-point piece of advice on how to structure your thesis statement in order for it to dictate the body of the essay (which it must).

    Here’s what I’d like you to do, if you don’t mind:

    1. Read this article.
    2. Rewrite ONLY your thesis statement at this point – not the entire essay, in accordance with what you learned.
    3. Post the final draft of your thesis statement right here as a reply to this comment.

    And we’ll take it from there, okay?

    I’m looking forward to it.

    P.S. As my mentor says: “I require only three things of you: Clarity, Clarity, and Clarity.” :)

    • ARUMAIRATHNAM, S. says

      Tutor Phil,
      Dear Sir,
      Thank you very much for your critical comments which pointed out several of my errors. I feel to learn more about writing. Please help me. As per your advice I once again write the thesis sentence in my introduction paragraph for your consideration as follows:

      “Books are always with man from the stone age to the papyrus age of the present days. They are also like humans. Some are entertaining and some others are instructive, serious and pedagogic. Whether they are instructive or entertaining they should motivate the readers to achieve some knowledge in their chosen topic.”

      Thank you,
      ARUMAIRATHNAM, S.

      • TutorPhil says

        Thanks for following my directions. By bringing this discussion to the blog, we help other to learn as well.

        Now, Arumairathnam – here’s the deal.

        You see, the thesis statement is the most important paragraph in any essay. It is the head and the heart of a paper.

        Ideally, here are the things your thesis statement must accomplish:

        1. State the main point as soon as possible – the first sentence is best.

        2. Immediately show why you think the statement is correct.

        3. Outline the coming support.

        For example:

        Whether instructive or entertaining, books should motivate the readers to gain knowledge on the chosen topic. First, (here you provide reason 1). Second, (here you provide reason 2). And finally, (here you provide reason 3).

        When you’re done, this will be your complete thesis statement.

        Now, one more thing. The thesis sentence must summarize the entire essay perfectly.
        This means that when I’m reading your essay, I’m constantly connecting your evidence to your thesis.
        Your thesis at this point seems to be that books should motivate the readers to learn. This is a very interesting main point, and I’m looking forward to reading an entire essay to support it.
        At this time, your task remains to write as good of a thesis statement as you can.
        This is deceptively easy, because it makes you think very clearly, which is a special skill not usually taught in schools or colleges, trust me.

        So, I’m looking forward to your writing. Don’t worry if you make mistakes, especially in your English. The most important thing I’m focusing on right now is the intellectual content of your writing.

        Looking forward to your new thesis statement.

        Cheers,

        Phil

  2. ARUMAIRATHNAM, S. says

    Tutor Phil,
    Dear Sir,
    Thank you very much for your correction on my thesis statement. It was excellent and I couldn’t believe whether it was mine and your advices were so valuable. This reply is delayed by some technical problems in my computer. I will soon rewrite the same essay or write a new one for your comments very soon. Please kindly oblige. Arumairathnam, S.

  3. Betty says

    Hey Phil,

    I have to do a essay on diction about the story “Araby” and I’m a little confused because I’ve never heard of a diction essay..

    • TutorPhil says

      An “diction” essay? hmmm…
      Never heard about this kind of an essay, either.

      You know what, clarify it with your instructor and post whatever you write here,

      I’ll be happy to look at it.

      Phil

  4. Nithia says

    I have to do an essay based on this question: Is the IB program for me?
    I REALLY don’t know how to start off. Can u help?

      • Nithia says

        i believe it is for me because i work hard to complete tasks and i manage my time wisely.

        i am not sure how i can make an essay using this. let’s say i’m stressed and whatever i write, i am not satisfied.

        • TutorPhil says

          Always look for ways to divide your topic into subtopics – that’s one of the key things I teach.

          So, you gave me two reasons why IB might be for you:

          1. You’re good at completing tasks
          2. You’re a good time manager

          Now, if you can come up with just two examples to support each of the claims you are making, you’ll have written a nice essay. Each example is like a little story you’re telling.

          If you still don’t have my 300 easy words report – go and grab it by entering your name and email in the box on the top right. It will help you.

          But as far as organization – two reasons why you’re a good candidate and two examples to support each reason are a good place to start.

          Let me know how this goes,

          TP

          • Nithia says

            but first i have a question, is this an essay:
            “The challenges of the new century demand more time in the classroom” – President Barack Obama. Just like the president, I strongly agree that the existence of year round school should be present everywhere in Canada.

            First of all, shorter summer breaks mean students are less likely to incur summer learning loss. This fact benefits all students because they will be able to increase their standard in each subject. Results show that students of grade 7 are getting higher scores in math after continuous learning. These students remember significantly more information and teachers can now teach a new material without having to spend weeks reviewing concepts students would normally forget over the summer.

            Second of all, pupils who are learning English as a second language and pupils with learning difficulties will also succeed more in their academics. They will receive a great amount of instructional time from their teachers than the quantity of instructional time they would normally get in the current system.

            Finally, vacation time can be more evenly distributed throughout the year, making it easier to schedule family vacations and giving students opportunity to regenerate more frequently. This can cut down on the need to re-teach skills after long vacations, allowing teachers to use classroom time more efficiently. Just because summer vacation is gone, doesn’t mean there are no holidays. When students spend time with their families and regenerate frequently, they are able to be comfortable in their learning. Pupils won’t be stressed out all the time as to those who oppose expect.

            Therefore, year round schools should exist to decrease the chance of pupils forgetting what they learned over the school year during the summer.

  5. Nithia says

    I have another question, is this a good beginning for my essay. tell me everything that i do to make it better. thnx
    The IB program is a challenging course for students who are highly motivated and committed to their learning. In spite of atleast one minor setback, being in the IB program is a wonderful change to your life. There is a great amount of homework given and you might have sleepless nights trying to complete these academic tasks. But helps students have a smooth path when entering college or universty, to be able to compete in the shrinking world and allows students to leverage their skills is bound to make IB a winner. Studetns should really work hard and manage their time wisely to be able to succeed in this program. I am one of those paticular students, in this generation, who cares a lot about his/her education and wants the best for their future. This program is definitely for me.

    • TutorPhil says

      A few suggestions:

      The IB program is a challenging course for students who are highly motivated and committed to their learning. In spite of at least one minor setback, being in the IB program is a wonderful change to your life. There is a Great amount of homework given may cause sleepless nights for students trying to complete these academic tasks. But it may help students have a smooth path when entering college or universty, to be able to compete in the shrinking (?) world and allow students to leverage their skills. These advantages are bound to make IB a winner. Studetns should really work hard and manage their time wisely to be able to succeed in this program. I am one of those students in this generation who cares a lot about education and wants the best for the future. This program is definitely for me.

      Yes – this is a nice way to begin, Nithia.

      TP

  6. Nithia says

    i have a question, should add reasons that are straightforward about me or just leave the beginning alone. for example of what i mean is ” I work hard and manage my time wisely.” should i add that in the paragraph? thnx for editing my beginning.

  7. Nithia says

    i have a question, should add reasons that are straightforward about me or just leave the beginning alone. for example of what i mean is ” I work hard and manage my time wisely.” should i add that in the paragraph?

  8. Nithia says

    is IB for you?

    The IB program is a challenging course for students who are highly motivated and committed to their learning. In spite of at least one minor setback, being in the IB program is a wonderful change. Great amount of homework given and you might have sleepless nights trying to complete these academic tasks. But helps students have a smooth path when entering college or university, to be able to compete in the improving world and allows students to leverage their skills is bound to make IB a winner. Students should really work hard and manage their time wisely to be able to succeed in this program. I am one of those paticular students, in this generation, who cares a lot about his/her education and wants the best for their future. This program is definitely for me.

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