- Find a scholarly article or book that is interesting to you. Focusing on the abstract and introduction, outline the first, second, and third stories of its thesis.
- Here is a list of one-story theses. Come up with two-story and three-story versions of each one.A. Television programming includes content that some find objectionable.B. The percent of children and youth who are overweight or obese has risen in recent decades.C. First-year college students must learn how to independently manage their time.D. The things we surround ourselves with symbolize who we are.
- Find an example of a five-paragraph theme (online essay mills, your own high school work), produce an alternative three-story thesis, and outline an organically structured paper to carry that thesis out.
- Go to the SAT website about the essay exam, choose one of the highly rated sample essays. In structure, how does it compare to the five-paragraph theme? How does it compare to the organic college essay? Use the SAT essay example you found to create alternative examples for Figures 3.1 and 3.2.
- The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers an excellent, readable run-down on the five-paragraph theme, why most college writing assignments want you to go beyond it, and those times when the simpler structure is actually a better choice.
- There are many useful websites that describe good thesis statements and provide examples. Those from the writing centers at Hamilton College, Purdue University, and Clarkson University are especially helpful.
1 “Organic” here doesn’t mean “pesticide-free” or containing carbon; it means the paper grows and develops, sort of like a living thing.
2 For more see Fabio Lopez-Lazaro “Linen.” In Encyclopedia of World Trade from Ancient Times to the Present. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2005.
4 The metaphor is extraordinarily useful even though the passage is annoying. Beyond the sexist language of the time, I don’t appreciate the condescension toward “fact-collectors.” which reflects a general modernist tendency to elevate the abstract and denigrate the concrete. In reality, data-collection is a creative and demanding craft, arguably more important than theorizing.
5 Drawn from Jennifer Haytock, Edith Wharton and the Conversations of Literary Modernism(New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2008).
6Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York: Pantheon, 1994), 21.