Ideas for Writing
learns in different ways. Part
of becoming a successful writer is discovering what
works best for you. To start writing, you need two things:
clear idea of what you
want to write about
2) evidence to support that idea.
Your writing will be more focused
and more effective if you think not just about topics but about
ideas. Writer Sheridan
Baker likes to ask students about their writing, "What's the
big idea?" If your
is clear and you can back up your idea you have the basis for a good
essay or paragraph.
subject should be something that will interest your reader and that
you feel you can say
something about that reflects your unique experience and point of
view. Avoid the obvious.
Writing on a topic like the difference between the rich and
the poor may lead to
like, " The rich have more money than the poor". Your
reader is likely to say,
what? That's not exactly news".
However, if you were to approach this topic from a different
angle such as how money affects a person's outlook on life, you have
you will have a general sense that you want to write about a certain
topic, but haven't
really decided what you want to say.
Before you write, take some time to do some
brainstorming to find some ideas.
Listing, clustering, questioning,
freewriting, and discussion
are all ways to generate ideas about your topic.
may find that you like to make lists and begin working with a clear
structure in mind before
you start writing. Or
you may prefer to freewrite, see what ideas you come up with,
and then try to craft your ideas into a finished paragraph.
There is no "right way"
it comes to writing. As you write more, you will discover which of
the following techniques
work best for you and make you most productive.
you wanted to write a paragraph on the influence of TV on children.
You might begin
by freewriting about all the ways you can think of that TV
worry if your ideas seem disconnected and fragmented. Just get down as many thoughts
as you can and worry about organizing them later. Allow yourself ten
then stop and see what you have.
Look at this example:
Example: TV and children
watch too much TV. Lots
of commercials selling junk food.
Nobody's real. Most
are really stupid. Kids can sit and watch junk for hours.
Kids get hooked and and don't
want to play with friendsórather watch TV. Lots of educational
shows but the kids always
prefer junk. Many shows
are violent. Lots of
murders and guns. Works
great as a
babysitter when you're tired and just don't want to deal with kids.
Kids want to get everything
that's on TV.
your freewriting, you can generate enough ideas for a paragraph in a
short time. Your
next step is to look at the ideas in your freewriting and decide
what you seem to be saying
about your topic. In this example, most of the statements about TV
these points and organize them into a list. See Listing below.
is another way to develop ideas for your writing. The clustering
reveals new and unexpected connections between ideas and allows you
to see different
themes and categories of thought. The technique is fairly simple:
write your topic
in a circle in the middle of the page and think of as many different
aspects of this topic
as you can. Continue on with ideas related to these new points until
you feel you have
enough ideas for your paragraph or essay. Then organize your ideas into lists or themes.
Here's an example of clustering on the topic of T.V. and Kids:
may prefer to begin by listing and find you can come up with
sufficient ideas for your
writing in this way. Or
you may find you prefer to free writing, idea clustering or some
other way of gathering ideas such as talking with others,
questioning or reading.
you are able to organize your ideas clearly as you write, you might
do this stage mentally
rather than as a written list.
But most writers benefit from written notes or lists before
they begin writing.
an example of working from a list of ideas to develop a paragraph:
initial list might include these points:
- children learn to accept violent behaviour as normal
- encourages materialism
- presents unrealistic role models
- entertaining, helps pass time
- watching TV replaces physical exercise
- replaces social relationships
looking at your list, you will probably see that there are more
negative effects than positive
ones. Your topic
sentence will reflect this idea.
paragraph below is based on the ideas from the list. (Of course this is a revised
not the first draft) Some
points have been eliminated and some have been combined
into one sentence. The topic sentence is in bold, the supporting
sentences are highlighted,
the transitions are in italics, and the conclusion is in bold. (For
more on paragraphs)
Children Learn from TV
of young children should be aware of the strong negative influence watching
too much TV has on children. First
of all, TV teaches children to accept violent
behaviour as normal. Children
may see hundreds of "murders" every year and soon
treat them with little concern. Secondly, TV teaches children to be materialistic.
is not surprising given that TV supports itself by selling products.
of TV is that it presents unrealistic role models. Most children don't know the kinds
of wealthy, carefree, beautiful people that are portrayed on the
screen. Finally, children
sometimes substitute TV for social and physical activities.
TV watchers can
physically and socially "out of shape". It's easy to argue that TV is educational,
but if you're really concerned about your kids, turn off that TV.
another way of coming up with ideas involves questioning yourself
and your beliefs about
a topic. Make a list of questions about your topic and try to come
up with some answers.
- Why does TV appeal so much to children?
- Is watching TV doing any long-term damage?
- How does seeing violence on TV affect children?
- How much TV should kids watch?
- What's the harm in watching TV if kids like it?
- Is TV making kids lazy?
could go on until you run out of ideas.
Your answers to these types of questions will reveal
your view and provide a starting point for writing about this topic.
after making lists or freewriting on you topic you may still feel
you don't have
a clear idea about what you want to say.
If you are still convinced about the value of
your topic, talk about it with a friend and see if you can come up
with some new ideas or
approach the subject from a new angle.
about your subject can help you identify further ideas, and it can
also give you the
precise vocabulary necessary to discuss your topic effectively.
Try to find a short magazine
or newspaper article on your topic.
Read through it carefully to find the main
and underline key words as you read.
You can use these later in your own writing.