Evaluating Your Thesis Statement Study Guide

Updated on Oct 1, 2011

Evaluating Your Thesis Statement

Things aren't magically better, if that's what you're hoping for. It's not that simple. - RANDAL K. MILHOLLAND (1975– ) INTERNET COMIC AUTHOR

Once you've written a first draft, it's time to begin the all-important process of evaluation and revision. It is essential at this point to understand exactly what is meant by revision. The word revision most often refers to the process of reworking, or even completely rewriting, major portions of your work. This may mean rewriting a paragraph, adding new examples, strengthening your argument, or even modifying your conclusion. (The process of improving individual words or sentences is usually referred to as editing.) This lesson focuses on and provides advice on evaluating your thesis statement. Subsequent chapters will discuss the evaluation and revision of the other parts of your essay.

This lesson explores the second important stage in the writing process: the evaluation and revision of your work. (The first and most important stage is the planning and outlining of your work.) While every writer wishes a first draft could magically be transformed into a final draft, that's an impossible dream. It never happens. The most skilled of writers revise, again and again. Some writers tell stories of having written five or six drafts of even a short essay before they feel satisfied that the work is done and ready to be read by others.

You may not need six drafts, but you certainly should assume that, at the very least, anything you write will require a minimum of two drafts, and that those two drafts will be followed by a last polish; at that point, you will have created, at last, a final draft. That means three drafts at a minimum. Remember, by its very definition, to draft means to create a preliminary version of your work. Successive versions will be smoother and more polished, but your first drafts will always be rough. And that's as it should be.

To help you understand what you should be doing in all those drafts, we'll look first at two common drafting techniques. Depending on the requirements of your writing project, you may find that different kinds of drafts are appropriate. For example, if you are writing a research paper, you'll need to have done all (or most) of your research before you can begin to put any words down on paper. If you're writing a short story, you may feel ready to dive right in. Think about which of these drafts you're most likely to use.

Two Types of Drafts

1. A First Rough Draft

A first rough draft is a document that approximates the assigned length you are working toward; it includes, more or less fully, all the major points you intend to make. If you have prepared adequately, by writing either a rough informal outline or a more formal outline, you'll write a first rough draft from your prepared outline. Most professional writers work from this kind of standard rough draft.

This type of draft reflects all the work you've done in advance of writing it. Before you begin writing your rough draft, you'll have already decided on and written a fine-tuned thesis statement; you'll have in mind several supporting paragraphs you plan to write to illustrate your thesis statement; and you'll have sketched out, however briefly, the conclusion you plan to draw. Your rough draft will utilize all your preplanning, and it will include all the required essay parts: a thesis, a body, and a conclusion. If writing were magic, you'd be almost finished, or at least you'd be hoping so. In fact, once you've gotten this much written, the work of evaluating the first rough draft can begin.

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