The process of writing a working thesis essay can take many forms. Sometimes, topic proposals are formal essays written according to fairly strict guidelines and offering exhaustive detail. At other times, your writing about your topic might be more personal and brief in form. Here is an example of a working thesis essay assignment:
Write a brief narrative essay where you discuss the topic you have decided to research and write about. Tell your audience, your fellow classmates and your instructor how you arrived at this topic, some of the other ideas you considered in your brainstorming activities, and the working thesis you have settled on for the start of your project. Also, be sure to let us know about some of the initial library research you have conducted.
Questions to consider as you write your first draft
- Is the research topic one assigned by the instructor? Is it focused on a specific group of texts, questions, or ideas that have to do with a specific class?
- Are you expected to come up with your own idea for research? Since it is unlikely you will be able to write about just anything, what are some of the guidelines given to you by your instructor for what you can and can’t write about?
- What are some of the ideas for research that you rejected as possibilities? Why did you reject some of these ideas?
- What ideas did you decide to brainstorm about? Remember! Be sure to brainstorm about more than one idea! What brainstorming techniques did you use to explore these ideas? Which ones seemed to work the best?
- What are some of the research topics that make up your research idea? In other words, when you begin to narrow your idea into different topics, what are some of the different research topics that interest you?
- What results did you get from a quick library keyword search? Be sure the keyword search you do of your library’s databases examines books, periodicals, and newspapers to see a full range of possibilities for research. Also, be sure to consider as many synonyms as possible for the keyword terms you are using for your research topic.
- What results did you get from a keyword search on the World Wide Web? Be sure to conduct a keyword search using more than one search engine since different services compile their data in different ways. Also, as was also the case with your library keyword search, be sure to consider as many synonyms as possible.
- Given these steps in the process, what is your working thesis? What variations of your working thesis did you consider along the way?
Review and Revision
As you will read again and again in this book, the first draft is only the beginning, the “raw materials” you create in order to really write your essay. That’s because the most important step in the process of writing is showing your work to others—your instructor, your classmates, readers you trust, your friends, and so forth—and making changes based on your impressions of their feedback.
Hyperlink: For guidelines and tips for working with your classmates in peer review sessions, see Chapter 4, “How To Collaborate and Write With Others,” particularly the section “Peer Review as Collaboration.”
When you have a first draft complete and you are ready to show it to readers, ask them to think about these sorts of questions as they give you feedback on your writing:
- Is the topic of the topic proposal essay clear and reasonable to your readers?
- What’s the working thesis? What sort of suggestions does your reader have to make the working thesis clearer? Is it clear to your readers that your working thesis is about a debatable position? Who might disagree with the your position? What do you think are some of the arguments against your position?
- What do your readers think is your main goal as a writer in pursuing this research project? Do your readers think you have made your purposes in writing this topic proposal and research project clear?
- Do your readers understand what library and Internet research you have already done on your topic? Are there particular examples of the library and Internet-based research that your readers think seem particularly useful or important?
Be careful to not limit your ideas for change to the things that are “easy” to fix (spelling, incomplete sentences, awkward phrases, and so forth). If you begin your process of revision by considering the questions suggested here (and similar questions you, your classmates, other readers, and your instructor might have), many of these “easy fix” problems will be fixed along the way. So as you go through the process of revision, think about it as a chance to really “re-see” and “re-imagine” what the whole writing project could look like.