HOW TO WRITE A MICROTHEME: A SHORT GUIDE
The idea behind a microtheme
is to present an argument about an assigned topic or question as clearly
and concisely as possible, without sacrificing evidence to support the
microtheme’s thesis. In order to create such a concise argument,
you should not concern yourself with crafting elaborate introductions and
conclusions. In fact, when complete, a microtheme should ideally
have the feel of an outline created in sentence and paragraph form, with
transition statements linking the main supporting points of an argument.
It will be impossible
for you to create a well-written microtheme in one draft, particularly
because attempting to limit yourself to 500 words as you are discovering
your ideas and the best way to support your thesis will likely prove difficult.
You should expect to revise your microtheme several times before you submit
it, then, first to assure your essay has the organization and supporting
points you want, next to eliminate extraneous points and ideas, and last
to work on clarity and conciseness of word choice, etc. I encourage
you to follow the steps below as you work on each microtheme:
A successful microtheme
should do the following:
Begin by prewriting, for several pages if necessary,
about the assigned question. Focus on coming up with as many ideas
and supporting points as you can, and do not concern yourself with length.
Do work to find specific textual evidence—quotes, elements of an author’s
style, plot events, etc.—to support the claims you make, and incorporate
that into your prewriting as you are able.
Go back over your prewriting and look for the main
idea or thesis which emerges. Highlight or note places where you
use the best supporting arguments for this thesis.
Create an outline or draft in which you present as
directly as possible your thesis and supporting points. Include your
textual support in this outline, along with your explanation of how/why
the textual evidence supports your thesis. Remember that quotes and
other evidence cannot stand alone, but must be explained in your own words
to be convincing.
Draft your microtheme using this outline.
Review your microtheme and revise, making sure your
argument has sufficient support and is not hidden behind vague language.
Trim out wordiness so that you are as close to the 500 word limit as possible.
I strongly encourage
you to make use of my office hours and the resources of the Writing Center
as you work on your microthemes. Remember that you will also have
the opportunity to revise your microthemes for a better grade after they
have been returned. Revisions must be submitted no more than one
week after the original return of the paper to be considered.
include a very brief, 1-2 sentence introduction which
presents the argument of the paper and sets up its organizational plan
include clear supporting paragraphs which state the
supporting point of the paragraph, give specific textual evidence to support
the claim made, and relate the evidence back to the thesis with thoughtful
demonstrate a strong understanding of the assigned
question and texts used to support the argument
avoid wordiness, and express its argument in no more
than 500 words (apx. 1 ½ pages, typed and double-spaced)
be free of grammatical and other surface mistakes
(i.e. spelling errors)
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