2 The Impact of the Thesis

The Impact of the Thesis

Seth French

Thoughts to Consider

As with any essay you write, your thesis is one of the most important components of your essay. As such, it is vital that your thesis is clear and effectively addresses the writing prompt inside. For the narrative essay, your thesis will likely be a realization you have come to or perhaps a life lesson you have learned from the story you are writing about. We will discuss in a moment where in your essay you should include your thesis, but for now let’s consider other important thesis-related points to keep in mind as you compose your essay.

Keep in mind that while you are telling a story with the narrative essay, the goal of your story is to support your thesis. Regardless of how interesting or well-written your story may be, if it fails to support your thesis then you will need to make significant revisions to it before submitting your final draft. When some students struggle to develop a working thesis, they choose to simply construct the rest of their essay and then create their thesis later. This is not a wise strategy. Your thesis should determine how you construct your essay, not vice versa. Thus, determining your thesis should be one of your first objectives to complete in the composition process. Once you have your thesis, you may still need to refine it throughout the drafting process, but the general idea of your thesis will likely remain the same.

As you compose the various parts of your essay throughout the drafting process, you should repeatedly ask yourself, “How does this support my thesis?” If you respond to this question honestly as you draft, you will be able to identify the strengths of your essay as well as the weaknesses and address them accordingly. Failing to support your thesis is generally the result of your details being insufficient, irrelevant, and/or incoherent. Therefore, if you are concerned that you have not adequately supported your thesis in a particular portion of your essay, ensure that your details are sufficient, relevant to your thesis, and coherently organized.

You may include your thesis in either the introduction or the conclusion of your essay. To help you choose where it would be best to include it for your particular essay, keep the following considerations in mind.

Thesis in Introduction

Including your thesis in the introduction is common across virtually all academic writing contexts because it helps you establish a clear focus early in the essay and gives your audience a general idea of what your essay is about before reading it in its entirety. Often you will find the thesis as either the first sentence or the last sentence in the introduction, although including it as the last sentence of your introduction is more common and often preferred. Your introduction does not need to be very long because the majority of what you communicate to your audience will be in the body of your essay, but it should contain the following aspects: hook/attention getter, optional development sentence(s), and a thesis.

The first sentence of your essay is often called an attention getter or hook because you want to get your audience’s attention (or “hook” them) from the very beginning. Hooks can come in the form of thoughtful questions, relevant statistics, intriguing quotes, or simply a well-crafted sentence. Thus, if you include your thesis as your very first sentence, make sure it is something that will engage your audience because you don’t want your audience to lose interest in what you have to say. Then, the only other components you would need to include in the introduction are development sentences if you feel that your audience needs a bit more information before you begin telling them your story. On the other hand, if your thesis is the last sentence in your introduction, your structure will be hook, optional development sentence(s), then thesis. When using this structure, just try to make sure that your thesis transitions logically into your first body paragraph.

Your body paragraphs are where you will tell your audience the story that makes up the majority of your narrative essay. As previously mentioned, be very intentional as you compose this story because you are not simply telling a story aimlessly; you are telling a story to support your thesis. After you’ve written your body paragraphs, all that’s left is your conclusion, which should restate your thesis (using slightly different wording) and offer any last insights you would like to leave your audience with that you have not communicated elsewhere in your essay.

Below is a list of pros and cons for this essay structure that you should consider as you determine which structure works best for you.

Pros:

  • An introduction with a thesis makes it clear to your audience for your essays about without reading your essay in its entirety.
  • With your thesis in the introduction, you can reference it as you develop your essay and ensure that each body paragraph supports your thesis coherently
  • Because this structure is common in many other academic writing contexts, you may have written this is similar structure in the past and find it easier to construct than the alternative.

 

Cons:

  • It can be difficult to engage your audience throughout the essay if you tell them the overall message you want to hear at the beginning rather than at the end.
  • It does not follow the typical structure of a story throughout: setting, characters, problem/conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Instead, both the introduction and conclusion contain elements of your resolution, and the other elements are more or less confined to your body paragraphs.
  • • Because it does not follow the typical structure of a story, you may be tempted to simply write an essay with several main points that come in the form of story-like examples rather than telling a story as you should for the narrative essay.

Thesis in Conclusion

Including your thesis solely in your conclusion is less common than the alternative in most academic writing contexts. Nevertheless, it corresponds to the typical structure of a story and is therefore perhaps more appropriate to use for the narrative essay. As you draft, you may find it helpful to think about some of your favorite stories from books, television shows, and/or movies and consider how they are structured. It is essential that you do not simply include a story with a moral at the end of it where the story’s details are unrelated, but rather be intentional in the details you share so that they are directly tied to your thesis in the conclusion.

As in the previous section, a list of pros and cons for this essay structure is included below to help you decide which structure works best for you. You may notice that the pros from the previous section correspond in some ways to the cons of this section, and vice versa.

Pros:

  • This structure corresponds to the typical structure of stories where the resolution that the audience is left with comes near the end rather than the beginning. As a result, it is perhaps easier to engage your reader throughout the essay because they are waiting until the end for the story’s resolution.
  • Following this structure almost ensures that your essay will be a narrative essay and that you won’t be deducted points for writing a narrative-like essay that does not adequately meet the requirements of this genre.

Cons:

  • You may not have experience composing essays with this structure and therefore find it more difficult to write than the alternative.
  • If you are not careful, your essay could seem somewhat aimless without a clear thesis in the introduction, and only seem clear when you reach the resolution at the end. Thus, you must be all the more intentional about the details you share leading up to your thesis and have a clear thesis in mind as you draft to ensure the remainder of your essay supports it.

 

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The Impact of the Thesis by Seth French is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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