I have always been taught to write essays in the same format:
First paragraph – Introduction including a thesis statement
Second to fourth paragraph – Body with details supporting/rejecting/analyzing the points in the aforementioned thesis.
Fifth paragraph – Conclusion summarizing the covered material.
If I were to write an essay on my favorite types of yarn, my thesis statement might look like this:
My favorite types of yarn are cashmere, mohair, and silk.
My body paragraphs would then proceed to address each type of yarn separately.
I find this structure, however, to be increasingly hard to follow as my papers become lengthier and, my prompts and topics, more complex.
In the above example, I might have to talk about six types of yarn rather than three. My thesis might become:
My favorite types of yarn are cashmere, mohair, silk, rayon, cotton, and alpaca.
The issue, though, is not how many points I have but, rather, the types of points that I wish to include. What if I were righting about, say, religion in the United States, with the following points needing to be addressed (understand that this is a brutally rough example and under no circumstance am I saying that this would make for a good paper):
Separation of church and state
The First Amendment
Religions in the United States
The presence and influence of protestants in the US
How would I go about writing a thesis statement that includes everything?
I can’t just list everything using commas or semicolons. But I can’t break up my thesis into multiple sentences, either, lest the thesis’ presence becomes unobvious and I am accused of not including it or being disorganized.
I always have this problem, and I’m not sure if it is because I have missed something fundamental to formal writing or something else. Maybe all the above.
Whenever I look at the professionally written essays and papers that I encounter in class, I can hardly recognize the format and essay structure that the author is using—certainly not the introduction-body-conclusion format we’re taught in school. They usually appear to flow organically like a journal entry, whilst still maintaining organization and formality. I love reading such texts, but I hardly think that that’s going to cut it as long as I have a grade attached to my paper!