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Supporting the Thesis Statement Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 1, 2011

3. Provide Reasons to Agree

The strongest arguments are usually those that win readers over with the greatest ease, and usually they do so with sound logic, specific examples, and good common sense. When you're building a thesis statement, you will be wise to consider all the reasons a reader might not agree with you, and make sure that you address or dismiss those potential concerns with your own list of reasons why your thesis is a good one.

For example, let's return to sweet, sad Kong. The writer of the King Kong essay must prove the thesis about Kong's sadness with more convincing reasons than that the writer says so. Here are sample reasons the writer might include why we should accept the sadness thesis:

  • Weak Reason: "I couldn't stop crying at the end of the movie; it was just totally sad." (Too emotional and subjective; not a factual reason to agree.)
  • Good Reason: "One has only to mention the name Kong all over the world and moviegoers' eyes will tear up. He has become the very symbol of brutalized innocence." (Difficult fact to prove, but a strong, easily accepted semifactual statement.)
  • Strong Reason: "The multiple remakes of this movie prove the profound emotional impact of Kong on movie history and on the widespread fans and moviegoers." (Easily substantiated fact.)

4. Include Anecdotes and Descriptions

Depending on the type of essay you are writing, it may well be appropriate to include anecdotes of personal experience that support your thesis. For example, if you are writing about a controversial topic such as "Should school uniforms be required?" a personal story about your experience in a school that required uniforms might be helpful. Personal anecdotes can support a thesis best when they relate directly to the topic and illustrate a particular point about the topic. Beware of generalized anecdotes that only indirectly contribute to the argument you are making.

Descriptions of specific events or situations that pertain to your topic are always helpful. In an essay about school uniforms, for example, descriptions of what various uniforms look like and descriptions of schools that have adopted uniforms would be strong information to include—whether you are writing in support of the idea or in opposition to it. Remember to choose descriptions and facts and evidence carefully. A good writer should be able to support almost any argument.

5. Include Expert Opinions and Quotations from Authorities

Consider all the cops-and-robbers shows you watch on TV. How many of them end in a dramatic courtroom scene with expert testimony from a medical examiner or a scientist? Including expert opinions and quotations from authorities is an excellent way to support a thesis statement.

Here's the proper way that our Kong fan might have used a quotation from a film critic who has written an entire book about Kong, Tracking King Kong: A Hollywood Icon in World Culture.

In her fascinating analysis of Kong and his influence, Cynthia Erb suggests that:

Like James Bond, Scarlett O'Hara, Batman, and the Star Trek characters, King Kong has become a cultural phenomenon—a character repeatedly featured in advertisements, political cartoons, musicals, operas, novels, comic books, film sequels, music videos, and other cultural works.

Your expert opinions and quotations don't always have to come from books, periodicals, the Internet, or other published sources. You can interview experts or other interested parties on your own. Be sure you quote your interviewees correctly, and provide the expert's credentials in order to justify your use of the expert's opinion as support for your thesis statement.

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