This is boring advice. Nobody wants to hear it. It’s straight English 101 stuff. I might as well be telling you to eat all your vegetables. But the truth remains. The best way you can improve your writing, build your audience, and show respect to your readers is to discipline yourself to include a thesis statement in the first paragraph of all of your blogs.
A thesis statement gives your writing clarity. Typically, if a writer cannot convey their main idea with one or two sentences, it is because they do not fully understand the point they are trying to make. Sometimes you need to write your entire first draft before your thesis reveals itself to you. That is perfectly acceptable, and can be a valuable part of your writing process
You should not, however, expect your readers to endure your unedited first draft that lacks a proper thesis statement without complaint. They will not. Do not disrespect your audience’s time and good taste by passing off your notes for an essay as an essay itself. One is a house; the other is a blueprint for a house. Do not insult your readers by behaving as though they cannot tell the difference.
Too many writers believe that they are above the lessons of English 101. They believe that their prose will carry their reader’s attention to the end and that they can leisurely arrive at their point whenever they see fit. Maybe they fancy themselves as some kind of rebel writer, like Jack Kerouac, who sees no value in conventional wisdom at all. Fair enough. It is a romantic image. But I would argue that writers like Kerouac are more revered for their romantic persona than for the quality of the actual words that they put on paper. Not all conventions are valid, but they do bring order and clarity to a work. Without any conventions at all, all we are left with is a sloppy first draft, and as Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.”
Other writers refuse to provide a clear thesis statement at the beginning of their essays because they lack the courage to present their opinions as opinions. These writers incorporate a variety of tactics in order to avoid the hard process of making and defending their argument. They disguise their essays with the trappings of an informative report. Rather than presenting their audience with what they believe at the start, these writers will often open with a long historical overview of the topic, using selective context to subtly influence the audience into naturally arriving at the same conclusion as the author. This is not persuasion, but rather, an exercise in forced perspective.
Other sneaky, manipulative writers will open with a summary of various points of view concerning the topic at hand. This is a combination of using ethos (relying on the trust that the audience has for the character of the writer, in this case, to provide them with unbiased information) to create a series of straw men (a weak, easily defeated opposing argument) so that the audience views the author’s opinion as inevitable, even though it was never clearly stated in the beginning.
Both of these tactics, though deceptive, can be effective in persuading uncritical readers. It’s like a referee who waits until the end of the 12th round in a prizefight to suddenly start punching the hell out of both fatigued boxers. The unwashed mob might call you the winner, but it’s the dirtiest way to fight.
Make no mistake; an essay is an argument, and an argument is a fight. Writers are gladiators in the coliseum of ideas. Write your thesis statement. Draw your sword. Fight with poise. Attack and defend to the best of your ability. Victory belongs to the persuasive.