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


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?

Questions? Comments? Post ‘em here.

Tutor Phil

Tutor Phil

Tutor Phil is an e-learning professional who helps adult learners finish their degrees by teaching them academic writing skills.

Recent Posts