Essay Writing Guide: Choosing a Topic, Brainstorming, and Writing an Outline

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Choosing a topic for an essay is much more difficult than it looks. While choosing an area of ​​interest can be a good place to start, it’s not always a good place to start an essay. There are a few things to think about before embarking on the research and writing process itself. Often times, writers tend to jump right into a project. While this is a great way to start, it’s not the best way to write a cohesive essay or research paper.

Many students and writers, faced with an essay or a longer research project, feel overwhelmed and prefer to ask any free trial editor to help. This can happen when the writer is not organized and / or prepared for such an endeavor. Writing an outline can help ease this burden and help the writer create a well-organized, high-quality product.

Selecting an audience for an essay

The first thing to consider when choosing an essay topic is the audience. Choosing an audience will help dictate the research that will inevitably follow. It will also help set the tone for the essay itself.

Think of it this way. An essay intended for children would be completely different from an essay intended for a college class, even if it is on the same subject. The writer must take into account the vocabulary and concepts that will be appropriate to the audience. Some information may need to be omitted in a children’s document. This same information can be crucial for a paper for a college course.

So be sure to identify an audience before going ahead with any type of essay project.

Choose an appropriate topic for essay research

Sitting down and picking an area of ​​interest is easy, but picking an appropriate topic for a research paper may not be that easy. There are quite a few things to consider. The first thing the writer needs to think about is the length of the paper. If the paper is going to be three hundred pages, writing on something obscure and local may not be the way to go. However, if the paper is only going to be three pages long, it may be better to write something on a smaller scale.

Once the length of the article has been determined, the author must then decide whether or not the chosen topic will provide enough / too much information for the research process to render your creative writing process. Choosing something large like “Cats” or “England” will give thousands and thousands of results. For an urgent matter, this may not be the way to go. The author may need to narrow the topic down to something like “African jungle cats” or “London tourist attractions”.

It is the same for the reverse. The writer doesn’t want to start too specific because the research may not provide enough information to write an article. Something like “The Effects of Salt Water on Wisconsin Field Mice” may not yield any search results. So if the article is to be ten pages long, the author may want to open up the topic a bit to allow for more research material. Perhaps “The Effects of Salt Water on Mice” would help elicit an appropriate amount of research from which to create an article.

Do not neglect the selection of the test subject

So while choosing a topic might seem like the easiest part of a project, in most cases it isn’t. Make sure you consider the task at hand, the audience, and the research before committing to a topic. There may be trial and error in choosing a topic, but the time and effort will be worth it in the end.

A good topic will lead to good research material which, in turn, will lead to a good article. A bad subject will lead to difficult research which in turn will lead to stress and poor paper.

How pre-writing activities can help during the writing process

There are a few issues writers encounter when starting the writing process. Often times, when some form of brainstorming / pre-writing is not used, writers will have a hard time putting together a cohesive text. Writers tend to go off the rails and stray from the point of view. There are also times when a writer becomes disorganized while trying to put all of their ideas on paper. All of these things can be avoided with a little planning and preparation.

Pre-writing activities

There are many types of pre-writing activities, not all of which will work for everyone. The three activities described in this article will appeal to different types of writers and learners. They are all very useful in the planning phase of the writing process. Hopefully the explanations will reveal how and why they can help writers during the research process.

  1. Free writing Free writing is about as easy as it sounds. The writer should find a quiet place where he will not be disturbed for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the writer has to start writing – anything – on paper. Although free writing generates a large amount, the material may not always be of high quality. However, there will be treats and maybe even phrases that can be used later. One of the problems faced by writers is the lack of motivation or the blocking of writers. In this case, it is better to start writing on the fact that there is nothing to write about. Eventually something will come out on paper.
  2. Graphic organizers graphic organizer has been called by many different names. It is sometimes referred to as strap-on or bubbling. The writer starts with an idea at the top or center of the paper and uses a series of circles or boxes to write sub-topics and details associated with the main topic. This activity has several different uses. It will show the author which areas can be used in writing and which areas may not have enough support to fit into the actual project. Also, it will help build paragraphs when the writer begins the writing process.
  3. Make a list List building is as easy as it sounds. Once the topic has been chosen, the writer simply needs to jot down the ideas and subtopics associated with the main topic of the article. From this point, the author can rearrange the items in the list into similar groups and / or eliminate items that don’t quite match. This can be compared to the practice followed by some buyers when compiling a shopping list. Once the list is complete, some shoppers will rearrange things by department or their location in the store. This makes the shopping trip much more efficient, just like pre-writing will make writing much more organized and efficient.

There are quite a few activities that weren’t mentioned in this article, but it’s a good sample of pre-writing activities. They help put ideas down on paper and make sure they are organized before writing the document. Pre-writing also lends itself well to the process of creating outlines.

Why write a plan?

There is always a bit of skepticism on the part of writers when it comes to writing plans and many will not write a plan unless it is required. However, by “cutting corners”, the writer is only depriving himself of a very useful tool. The outline can help speed up the writing process.

There are many different reasons for writing a plan. When a project of this magnitude is undertaken, the writing can become disorganized or confusing. The writer can also end up taking a tangent, especially when the subject is of personal importance. All this harms the cohesion of the writing.

When there is an outline, the paper writes itself. The writer knows where to start, where to end and what points to hit along the way. In short, a preview takes the guesswork out of it and the paper pretty much writes itself.

Outline writing process

There are a few steps to take before writing a plan. The writer must first decide the purpose of the article. From there, the writer should choose an audience and write a thesis statement. Next, the writer should brainstorm. Finally, the writer can start to write the actual outline.

It is important to follow all the steps in the process of writing the plan. Skipping steps can lead to misrepresentation of information. This will negate the effectiveness of the contour itself.

Correct shaping of contours

There is no proper format when writing a plan for personal use. However, if the plan is part of a project or assignment, it should follow the guidelines for writing the plan. Regarding outlines, the requirements differ slightly depending on the format used (APA, MLA, Chicago Manual). Be sure to check the specific guidelines required by the chosen format.

However, these are some basic guidelines. The outlines must be alphanumeric. The thesis statement must be complete and written at the top of the outline. Depending on the situation, instructors may also ask students to write the introduction and concluding paragraphs. If this is not mandatory, it is still a good practice to have. Both the introduction and the conclusion are very important and will help the writer achieve his main goals.

Outlines are great tools. Although they are an extra step in the writing process, they save the writer time in the end. They also help improve the quality of the writing itself. If in doubt, write an overview anyway!

About the Author: Bianca J. Ward is a professional marketing manager at free essayist. In addition, she is a passionate and traveling photographer who has visited 52 countries around the world. Bianca dreams of creating a photo exhibition to showcase her works to others.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash


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