The main starting point when writing an essay is to choose your topic. If you have already been assigned a topic by your instructor, you have an advantage. If you are required to choose your own topic, maybe based on the course materials or what you have learned, your topic should be something interesting to you. You should be able to easily brainstorm a few ideas to write about. However, keep in mind that your topic describes what your entire piece is going to be about. For example, if your topic is ‘The Cause of the War in Iraq’ you would not write about a children’s book.
When the Topic is Pre-Chosen
As stated, your topic should be an overview of what your written assignment contains. Avoid being too general. Using the previous example, if your title was ‘The War in Iraq’, you would need to narrow it down to a subtopic. You also want to avoid being too narrow. You should make sure that you have enough information necessary.
Choosing Your Own Topic
If you are instructed to choose your own topic, you have unlimited possibilities. As stated before, avoid being too general. Choose a topic that is of interest to you, and that you will enjoy writing about. Find the purpose of the essay, list all of your topic ideas, and then select one that you believe will be easy for you to write, but also informative.
There is a four-question process that is widely recommended:
1. What possible topics do I already have knowledge or experience in?
2. What do I want to know more about? What do I think others need to know more about?
3. What are my goals in life right now?
4. What challenges and problems do I have in life right now?
Once you have brainstormed and chosen your topic, you need understand what you are being assigned to do.
This means you will need to complete the following steps:
• Identify and understand the directive words chosen by the instructor to frame your topic or idea
• Recognize and understand the key terms particular to your topic and subject
• Brainstorm your topic to generate ideas, information, and ways to approach the topic
After you have completed those steps, you are well on your way. Your next challenge is to make a plan. You should also make a preliminary reading (or research) list.