One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when writing your thesis is staying on message and making sure that your writing is punchy, coherent and flows logically.
When you’re writing such long chapters it’s easy to get lost in the detail and go on tangents. What started out with good intentions may end up going astray as you veer of message and your argument gets diluted.
A really effective way of avoiding this is to write a short introductory paragraph that summarises the key points and arguments that the rest of the text will develop. Someone should be able to understand broadly what your chapter is about just from reading one of these introductory statements.
They don’t have to be long. Typically they only need to include two or three sentences. Their job is to summarise the argument and present the top level, headline detail. ‘This chapter will argue….’ or ‘The purpose of this chapter is to…’, and so on.
They have a number of benefits.
First, they force you to stop and think about what exactly you’re arguing. By stripping away all the bloat and being confined to just a couple of sentences, you’re forced to crystallise your thinking.
Second, they make the reader’s life easier by priming them for what is about to come. With these introductory statements, you’ve told them what the point of the chapter is in the first paragraph. Because they know where you’re heading, they can more easily follow along as you get there.
Third, they help you structure the rest of the text, because they serve as super-condensed chapter outlines.
So next time you find yourself struggling to get your point across, try and write this kind of two or three sentence summary. You’ll be surprised the effect it has.