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Thesis Statements and the Drafting Process Help

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Updated on Sep 7, 2011

What Is Drafting?

To draft means to create a preliminary version or rough form of a text. Preliminary and rough are the key words. Like brainstorming, drafting is most effective when you allow yourself to write imperfectly. Unless you're writing a timed essay exam, such as for the SAT or ACT, your essay will take final shape after revising. (And even the graders of those timed essays exams make it clear that they're looking for a "polished rough draft," not a perfect piece of writing.) The point of drafting is to get your ideas on paper within the framework you created in the planning stages, but without the pressure of trying to get it exactly right.

Instead of staring at a blank piece of paper, at your outline, and then back at the paper, get writing. It's especially important not to waste time trying to write an eloquent, attention-grabbing introduction. The best introductions are typically written after the body of the essay, when your ideas and the manner in which you reveal them are on paper. That's why the lesson on introductions doesn't appear until after the lessons on writing good paragraphs and providing support for your ideas and assertions.

Tips for the Drafting Process

Use the following guidelines to help keep your ideas flowing during the drafting stage:

  • Keep your thesis statement and assignment in front of you at all times. This will keep you focused on what your essay needs to do.
  • Follow your outline, but be flexible. Don't feel obligated to stick to your original plan if, as you're writing, you come up with a better order of paragraphs, or a new idea.
  • Save your drafts. Whether they're on paper or on the computer, keep a copy of every version of your essay. (That means, on the computer, you will need to make a copy of your draft into a new document before revising.) You may find that an idea you thought you weren't going to use will have a place in your essay after all.

Drafting a Thesis Statement

While you don't need to start with an introduction, you should have a thesis statement before you begin drafting. Your thesis is the main idea of your essay—it succinctly reveals what you're going to say. In Lesson 5, you learned how to narrow your topic and formulate a tentative thesis. Now, you'll either commit to that thesis, or revise it into a workable thesis statement.

Here are a few more considerations:

  1. A good thesis statement makes a strong, clear assertion that conveys your attitude about the subject.
  2. Drafting a Thesis Statement

  3. A good thesis statement strikes the right balance between too broad and too narrow. It needs to be focused enough to encompass just enough material to cover within the spatial confines of the essay, and narrow enough to include enough material that can be supported by evidence.
  4. Drafting a Thesis Statement

  5. A thesis statement is not simply an announcement of the subject matter. You need to tell readers what you are going to say about your subject.
  6. Drafting a Thesis Statement

  7. A thesis statement is not simply a question or list of questions. You still need to tell your reader what idea you are going to develop in your essay (the answer to one or more of your questions).
  8. Drafting a Thesis Statement

  9. A thesis statement is not simply a statement of fact. It must be an assertion that conveys your ideas about the subject.
  10. Drafting a Thesis Statement

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