Some kinds of writing—for example, writing to explore an idea or to describe a scene—may be unified by a search for meanings or simply by some dominant impression or mood rather than by a central idea that can be stated in a sentence or two. For most of the writing you do, however, you will need to develop a thesis at some point in the composing process. The thesis is also sometimes spoken of as one’s focus, or ones point. None of these terms should be confused with a topic. The difference between a topic and a thesis is important: The topic is the subject narrowed to a manageable scope, and the thesis is the position you are taking on the topic. The topic can simply be named. “Equality for women in military service” is a topic. The thesis can be stated as a proposition in a sentence or two. “Women should be allowed in combat” is a thesis.
All the techniques described earlier for finding and focusing a topic can also help you formulate a thesis. For some writers, a thesis comes before they begin writing a draft; other writers may not know their position on the topic until they see what they have to say. Become aware of what your writing process is and develop strategies that help you make the most of it. One final word here about your thesis: Be prepared to change it if you find that it is not workable or that you no longer believe it. Writing at its best is always a process of discovery.