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I have a topic. What now?

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Christof Berger

on 17 September 2013

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Transcript of I have a topic. What now?

I have a topic. What now?

How you connect with your topic is the most crucial part of devising the thesis: the heart of your essay.

There are three types of relations: Direct, Metaphor, and Values
Thesis Building
What is a thesis statement, and what is its purpose?
Types of Theses
There are three main types of theses, and each has its own implications and creates a different feeling for the reader.
Stronger Thesis
Devising a Thesis
The thesis is the purpose of your essay, wrapped into a single sentence. Every part of the paper must relate to the thesis somehow.
An Example of Theses
Topic: Water Pollution
Things to Bear in Mind
Research your thesis before settling.
Don't mistake structural preview for thesis.
Don't refer to the essay in the thesis.
Never write a thesis in the passive voice.
The thesis is the result of your connecting with and questioning your topic.
There are three types: questions, statements of fact, arguments.
There are many methods for coming up with thesis ideas.
Make your thesis as strong as possible.
Direct Relations
A good choice, when available.
Apply 'How?' and 'Why?' to find a thesis which you are comfortable with.
When in doubt, 'Google' it.
Metaphor Relations
More difficult than the other two, but very effective when the metaphor works.
Counterintuitively, often grounds the essay in very clear and direct terms.
Apply 'How?' and 'Why?'
Values Relations
Easiest way to establish a connection with the topic, but almost always turns the resulting thesis into an argument.
Apply 'How?' and 'Why?' in combination with 'should' to devise a thesis.
Beware of personal and cultural biases.
Probably one of the most-suggested methods.
May also be the least useful, depending on how you feel about writing in general.
Set a timer for ten minutes, and write about your topic: anything that comes to mind.
Do not go back to change or edit, and don't leave anything unwritten.
Used to gather subpoints and related ideas.
Excellent tool for exploring alternative ideas or fleshing out your subpoints.
Write your topic in the center of a page. Then, write any words or phrases which come to mind around it. Do this again for each of the new ideas, creating a 'web' of interrelated ideas.
Idea Bowl
Used to maintain focus during brainstorming.
Great for sorting through an overwhelming number of ideas.
Use notecards or slips of paper.
Set a timer for 10 minutes.
Write down as many ideas as you can think of. After writing each idea, fold the slip or card and put it in a bowl.
Review the ideas, and select one for your thesis.
One Sentence
The thesis statement has often been mistaken for an entire paper. It is, instead, a single sentence.
Implanted Idea
If you could implant a single idea into your reader's mind about your topic, what would it be?
The weakest type of thesis.
'Baits' the reader, which is not attractive.
Come across as uncertain, lacking confidence.
Often mistakenly used in place of the answer.
Should only be used as a last resort or if an instructor requires it.
Are the strongest type of thesis.
Come across as direct and confident.
Can create a more complex project than the other two types.
Take a position on an issue.
Copyright M. Christof Berger, MFA, 2013
That is what the thesis sentence does: establish what you want the reader to think and/or feel by the time they've finished.
Statements of Fact
Statements of Fact
Statements of Fact
Are moderate and probably the most frequently used type of thesis.
Are easily accepted by the reader owing to their objectivity and detachment.
Lend themselves especially well to expository essays.
Set forth an indisputable and objective fact
Next Presentation: Structure and Outlining
Still stuck? Schedule a session with me.
Direct Relationship

My water bill rate increased this year due to the extra filtration and santization necessary to make it drinkable.
Values Relationship

Companies which dump toxins into our waterways should be subject to stiffer fines and stronger regulation.
Metaphor Relationship

My teenage son refuses to clean his room, in spite of what it does to him and the rest of our home. Are we so immature that we won't clean up our own messes on this planet?

Water pollution encompasses a large number of possible toxins, from poisonous radioactive waste to dyes to superheated water. It is little wonder that regulators are overwhelmed. Further personnel and steeper consequences should be instituted in order to reduce the number of violations and protect the health of the population.
Idea Bowl

Does dumping pollutive chemicals into the water pose any threat to our everyday health and well-being?

Water pollution causes a number of problems for water-dwelling creatures as well as the water itself.

Companies which poison our edible food supply and drinking water should be held to the same standard as individuals.

Water -> Fish -> Food
Water -> Drink
Water -> Steam -> Nuclear Power
Water -> Rain -> Transporting Poison
Pollution -> Change -> Accomodation
Pollution -> Chemicals -> Acid
Pollution -> Chemicals -> Dye
Pollution -> Oil
Choosing a Thesis

Does dumping pollutive chemicals into the water pose any threat to our everyday health and well-being?
Strengthening the Thesis

Dumping pollutive chemicals into our waterways poses a serious threat to our health and well-being.
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