Choosing and Refining Topics

Developing a Working Thesis

A working thesis is a tentative statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process, for the purpose of directing your thinking early. This thesis is likely to change somewhat or to be abandoned altogether as you move through the writing process, so it is best not to become too enamored of it.

There are two components of a working thesis. The first is, quite simply, your topic; and the second is your tentative statement about your topic. For example, if my narrowed topic is

"Rising property taxes in small towns in the Rocky Mountain region..."

I might add the following statement about [italics] that topic:

"...cause longtime residents and landowners in those towns not to be able to keep their property."

As I begin whatever research is necessary to support this thesis, I might find that I can't make this much of a claim. Or I might find that there are complexities that I hadn't considered. As I uncover new information about my topic, I will want to alter my working thesis accordingly, until it is workable and supportable.

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