Creating a Thesis Statement

Since writers must decide what they will discuss, why they will discuss it, and how they will arrange ideas early in the planning process, a thesis statement can often be easy to plan. For example, if an author needs to trace a U.S. bill through the legislative process from its introduction to its passage, the topic is already limited and the organizing pattern is defined. The thesis could be written as “A successful U.S. bill begins with sponsorship, and then follows several possible routes to lead to its passage.” The topic is limited, and the organizing pattern (process) is already defined.

A thesis statement is much more difficult to create if an author has a topic but is unsure of its scope, its purpose, or its audience. If an author wants to explore the demands of opening a restaurant in Austin, for example, how much to cover? And for what readers? The subject matter in itself is enormous. Should the article cover startup costs, publicity, location, operating costs, staff, or feasibility? And what kinds of restaurants should be considered?

To limit the subject matter, authors must also consider readers. How much will the readers know or need to learn? How much will the author have to research? Without limiting the subject matter and defining the purpose, no thesis will be possible.

Here are two limited possibilities.

  1. Given the local economy, the large numbers of competitors, the startup expenses, and the operating expenses, opening a restaurant of any kind in Austin is currently a risk. As an example, this essay will consider the short life of The Green Papaya, a Mexican restaurant in Central Austin that closed in six months. (Purpose: persuasive. Topic: Opening an Austin restaurant. Organizing patterns: cause and effect, narrative.)
  2. To open an Austin restaurant, conduct needs assessment, prepare a financial plan, determine health and legal requirements, and consider the range of operation your budget can allow. (Purpose: informative. Subject matter: opening an Austin restaurant. Organizing pattern: process.)

In both cases, readers are new to the restaurant business. #1 urges readers against the risks of opening a restaurant, while #2 outlines the major steps to take in planning to open a restaurant.


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