Research and write the first draft of your essay minus the introductory paragraph and thesis statement. Often you will start an essay with one idea for your thesis statement, but as you write you discover your essay focuses on a different argument, or you refine and further clarify your original statement. The introductory paragraph is often easier to write after you know what your paper is actually about.
Keep a list as you write your first draft of key arguments and themes in your essay. Use this list after you are done with your first essay draft to help you craft a thesis statement clearly identifying the primary argument of your paper. Since your thesis statement will be only one sentence at the end of your introductory paragraph, you must choose the most compelling argument for your statement. Your argument should also be the one which you can most strongly defend with your research.
Write your introductory paragraph. Your first sentence should immediately capture the reader's attention. Posing a question in your first sentence and then answering it in subsequent sentences is one way to pull your reader into your essay. Try to avoid beginning your essay with phrases like, "In this essay I will..." or "This essay will demonstrate how...." Your goal in the introductory paragraph is to build a compelling path to your thesis statement in a few sentences.
Insert your thesis statement as the final sentence of your introductory paragraph. Your thesis statement essentially launches your reader into the heart of your essay. Each paragraph that follows your statement will relate back to it and should further your statement's argument or position. For this reason, it is important that your thesis statement is as clearly and specifically written as possible.