13. Include a title on your proposal. I'm amazed at how often the title is left for the end of the student's writing and then somehow forgotten when the proposal is prepared for the committee. A good proposal has a good title and it is the first thing to help the reader begin to understand the nature of your work. Use it wisely! Work on your title early in the process and revisit it often. It's easy for a reader to identify those proposals where the title has been focused upon by the student. Preparing a good title means:
Because the project lasts so long and delves extensively into its topic, the student should select a topic that is interesting and engaging. The creative student may, upon beginning research, discover that the chosen topic presents such a new idea to the field that no directly relevant research currently exists. In that case, the student must create the research from scratch. He or she should begin research by reading everything available that relates even indirectly to the field of study; for example, if the student is studying a Mesopotamian text upon which no one else has written, he or she may read journal articles and books that deal with other ancient texts from that location, language, or time period. This is called secondary research, and it aids the student in developing a voice of credibility. Secondary research provides an education in the terms, issues, history, and research authorities that belong specifically to that field of study, and the student who becomes conversant in all these areas can begin to write a masters thesis that can sway the opinions of experts in the field.
Here’s a working thesis with potential: you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal. Your reader is intrigued but is still thinking, “So what? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?” Perhaps you are not sure yet, either. That’s fine—begin to work on comparing scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions. Eventually you will be able to clarify for yourself, and then for the reader, why this contrast matters. After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write: