1. Take a stand
2. Be specific
3. Focus on one topic
4. A "working thesis" may change over time.
Whatever thesis you choose, make sure that the topic is manageable. If you have chosen something that is too narrow you will have a hard time researching and finding enough evidence to support your topic. On the other hand, if your topic is too broad you will have a hard time adequately presenting your argument in a standard paper/project.
A thesis is a debatable claim. For most projects you can only develop a thesis AFTER you have researched and gathered some information. A thesis is supported by the evidence you present. A GOOD thesis presents an analysis of issues rather than a retelling of basic facts. A GOOD thesis makes the reader ask"WHY?" and inspires them to continue reading. While the thesis is typically located at the end of an introductary paragraph EVERYTHING in your paper/presentation/product ties back to your thesis.
When a teacher gives you an assignment asking you to analyze, take a stand on, or look at cause and effect of some issue that is code for you better have a thesis, even if they don't explicitly state you need a thesis.
While researching keep an eye out for patterns that keep popping up in multiple sources. Have you seen comparisons that authors keep making? Have you come across anything that makes you question "why is that?" It doesn't necessarily have to be controversial but your thesis should definitely take a stance. The topic should be one that can be argued. A bad thesis is too "blah". For example, "Texting and driving is bad". This would not be a good thesis because any reasonable person would agree that texting and driving is bad and should not be done.
The rest of your paper/project is devoted to providing evidence that backs up your claim. The evidence should include quotes/paraphrases/info from experts who are in agreement with your stance.
DO NOT use first person.
BAD thesis:The American economy is in a very bad state and needs to be fixed.
BETTER THESIS: The poor performance of the American economy in the year 2014 can be traced back to economic policy and decisions made under President Reagan in the 1980's .
Remember, a thesis is just one INTERPRETATION of ideas, it is NOT the ONLY interpretation. There is not one right answer. However, there are WEAK thesis statements.
Yes, you will eventually need a thesis. However, you can not possibly start your research by deciding on a thesis. You don't even know what events you are going to cover. Do your research first. Once you have read several sources a thesis might start to formulate for you.This tentative thesis can then help to limit your research a bit. However, don't be afraid to shift your thesis and modify it and your searches. Things change!