See It in Practice

Now that you have learned about the importance of developing a strong argumentative thesis for your argumentative essay, it’s time to visit our student who is engaging in her own argumentative writing process.

In this video, watch as she shares her drafts of thesis statements and her process of arriving at a good working thesis, which will guide her throughout the rest of her writing process.

Video Transcript
Student says:

After reviewing my research, I am actually having a hard time deciding on a working thesis. I started out wanting to argue for the legalization of marijuana, but I do actually feel more nervous about this than when I started. I was really basing my opinion on some ideas that I now know are myths: that marijuana is not addictive and that so many people are in prisons for marijuana convictions. Of course, I was also basing my opinion on what I know about alcohol and the fact that it is legal, so I don’t think I’m ready to change my mind, though the more I read, the more I think maybe both should be illegal. But, that is a really impractical, and a really controversial argument, and I am losing my focus–research tends to do that sometimes.

Despite the problems with my original thinking, I’ve decided to move forward with my argument that marijuana should probably be legal, though I am going to have to write a really, really careful argument.

With that in mind, I have to try to develop a working thesis that fits my goals, though I know this can be changed later.

My first attempt at a thesis went something like this:

American sentiment about marijuana is changing thanks to a great understanding of the drug and its effects. It is now time to work to legalize marijuana, though with some careful consideration and clear limitations.

Well, I am capturing the ideas I want, but I feel this is too wordy for sure!

So, I’m going to try again.

Due to a greater understanding of marijuana and its effects, American sentiment about the legalization of marijuana seems to be changing, and with good reason. With careful regulation, marijuana should be a legal drug in the state of Texas, just as alcohol is legal.

I should maybe avoid bringing the alcohol issue into my thesis, though I will address this in my paper. It is just not going to be the main focus, I think. I wonder what my thesis would look like without that last part tagged on at the end.

So, here is my third attempt:

Due to a greater understanding of marijuana and its effects, American sentiment about the legalization of marijuana seems to be changing, and with good reason. With careful regulation, marijuana should be a legal drug in the state of Texas.

I think this feels like a good working thesis. It’s technically a two-sentence thesis, but I’m actually thinking the first sentence is maybe more of a transition to my thesis. I think the key is that I’m making a clear assertion, and I have a narrow focus in that second sentence.

I may need to revise this thesis later, especially as I still feel unsure about my overall argument, but I am going to settle on this for now. I have done a lot of research and still haven’t changed my mind, though I know that is still an option. “

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