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Writing an Essay: Chapter 3 - The Full and Final Thesis

Part of a series of prezis adapted from Lucille Vaughan Payne's book The Lively Art of Writing.
by

Peter Flynn

on 25 June 2013

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Transcript of Writing an Essay: Chapter 3 - The Full and Final Thesis

Writing an Essay 3: The Full and Final Thesis
The last step before you start writing
is to construct the full and final thesis.
The important part of this is not just HOW
to prepare this but WHY you need to do so.
So far, your thesis is your opinion reduced to a
single, arguable statement.
Your full thesis contains three elements:
1. Thesis
2. Points that can be made against your thesis.
3. Points in favor of your thesis.
All you're really doing is arranging the raw materials
in your essay in an orderly manner.
- You will never actually use this full thesis in this
form in your final essay. It will, however, help you to
organize your ideas.
The Psychology of Argument
The goal of an argument is identical to the goal in
any essay - to persuade. These same three elements
in your full thesis are always present in any
successful argument.
Let's take a look at a typical argument.
But DAAAAAAAAD!
Scenario: You want to borrow the car to go see a movie. Unfortunately, the last time you borrowed the car, you hit a lamppost. Uh oh.
Option One
Dad, I want to borrow the car.

Outcome?
Option Two
Dad, I want to borrow the car.
I'm not ten years old
Other people my age drive all the time
I dent one bumper and you act like it's the end of the world.
Can't you do something nice for me for once?

Outcome?
Option Three
Dad, I hope you will consider letting me use the car.
I know I was to blame for denting the bumper last time
I made the date before I dented the bumper
I've already made arrangements to have it repaired
I will pay for the repairs myself
I'd like another chance to prove to you that you can trust me.

Outcome?
Assuming your father is reasonable,
you at least have a chance.

The reason you have a chance is because you have
presented a compelling argument. You presented your thesis.
You anticipated the objection and dealt with that up front.
You then presented a series of points, building to your most
convincing point.
Why might this work?
One thing that you might have thought was strange is that
the strongest argument goes last. You've probably been taught
that you should lead with your strongest argument in an essay.
Why do you think that is?
Form of the Full Thesis
Thesis:

Con arguments Pro arguments
Before you start writing, write this out and refer
to it as you write. An index card is a good way
to keep track of this.

This is not to say that you can NEVER stray from
your full thesis. You should, however, have a very good
reason for doing so. It is meant to keep you on track.
Full transcript