Finding Inspiration For Your Thesis

macbook write a thesis
macbook write a thesis
Coming up with an interesting thesis statement is the bane of my existence. Or it least it was when I was a student (it’s still so strange to not be in school! I like writing papers and doing research!).

To this day, I still experience a complete mind blank when asked to come up with a paper topic. After a long chat with a fellow English major over coffee, we both agreed that crafting an argument is something that’s not-so-commonly taught in high school, but all too expected in college writing and beyond (plus, it makes your writing more sophisticated sounding! And interesting!). Once you finally grasp what exactly a thesis is, it’s so easy to fall into summarizing or regurgitating common arguments that have been made a thousand times over. Yet after awhile you start to find little systematic ways to take the interesting parts of a text and turn them into writing material. 
Now, these tactics aren’t just food for thought when you’re writing a thesis statement. Give them a try at your next book club meeting if you’re finding yourselves covering the same themes month after month, or need to add a new angle to the discussion. I wish I would’ve kept some of these questions in mind in my high school English classes, so I wasn’t wandering into group discussions blindly!
  1. Pay attention to weird moments – If you find yourself scratching your head at a particular moment in a story, chances are there’s something to be said about it! To fuel your ideas, think about why it feels strange or out of place, or how it differs from the rest of the text.
  2. Play devil’s advocate – It’s a common strategy to use, but aligning yourself against the normal claim can help stretch yourself in a new direction if you find yourself making the same, seemingly obvious observation time after time. Flipping the typical claim can provide you with some insightful counterarguments, at the least.
  3. Make a parallel – A lot of times you can compare characters or events within a story, or even two different stories. Drawing parallels between two similar or different elements can create an interesting dialogue.
  4. Track a word or theme – Whip out the handy dandy OED and follow how a word or theme evolves or is applied over the course of the story. Sometimes the theme undergoes changes over the course of the story itself. Also, look for moments of ambiguity when a word could have a double meaning. Often, interpreting a word both ways can lead to some pretty intriguing discoveries.
  5. Compare adaptations – Have you ever noticed that certain scenes are portrayed a certain way as works are modernized and adapted into different formats? Think about what elements have stood the test of time, and which are subject to change. Take Pride & Prejudice, for example: the BBC version differs from the 2005 film, which differs from the Bridget Jones’ Diary take, and the more recent Lizzie Bennet Diaries. You could easily look at the evolution of communication and gossip, the change in cultural portrayal of the scandal, how Lizzie’s famous character has been translated into a more modern portrayal, etc. Lots to work with!
Granted, not all of these strategies can be used in every context. Sometimes you just can’t argue against a normal claim, because you just can’t support that position (trying to make the text say something it physically doesn’t is a no-no). But often, just thinking about your angle in a different manner can help expand your ideas into new territories.
And when in doubt, just come up with a catchy subtitle for your paper. And you can probably throw agency into your argument somehow. I’m only half-joking with this advice.
How do you craft an argument?