Selecting an essay topic is challenging and important in the process of writing. When you receive the assignment, you may think that you have no good ideas. However, after some work and writing, you will find an appropriate topic that will interest your teacher. Let's first look at some pre-writing ideas, and then we will dig into specific assignments.
Useful Prewriting Ideas
If you begin the process by doing a little research and reading in magazines and newspapers, you'll find that ideas will spark. Jot down topics you find interesting that are related to your assignment. Other strategies include brainstorming lists of ideas, free-writing for a set time and creating spider graphs or mind maps. Pushing your mind through these exercises will help you generate ideas regardless of the specific assignment.
Personal Narrative Essays
High school and college instructors often assign a personal narrative essay at the beginning of the semester. The assignment requires you to narrate or tell the story of a meaningful experience. With a pen in hand, explore past events that helped you learn something about life. Remember that your audience will probably be your teacher, so focus on stories that you can make engaging. After reflecting on your past and generating a list, discuss the assignment with friends and family. You may find that they remember useful events. Review journals, photo albums, scrapbooks and the objects you have collected over the years. Physical objects will help to jog your memory. Examine all of your ideas, selecting the one that best fits the assignment.
Descriptive or Informative Essays
A descriptive essay gives you the opportunity to explore something in detail, so you must find a topic that is worthy of the effort. To find a topic, think like an explorer or journalist. Generally, your topic will be either people, places or things. As you explore these, keep your eye open for ones that are especially meaningful. You might think of friends, family, celebrities, places you've visited, your hometown, a specific business or organization, photographs, family heirlooms, treasured objects or an antique. Whatever you choose, find an angle to make the person, place or thing memorable.
Often instructors assign argumentative essays as research papers, and you attempt to persuade your reader to see and maybe agree with your point of view. So you need a specific, timely and engaging issue that has not been overdone in the media. Your library will have a couple of databases that will be helpful. CQ Researcher is a free online service that focuses on issues with multiple points of view. Your public or school library will have access to two similar databases: SIRS and Proquest. Use these tools to help you find arguable topics that are current and relevant.
Darin L. Hammond owns and writes for ZipMinis.com and publishes with Technorati Media, Social Media Today and Broowaha. He holds a Master of Arts in English and has taught advanced college writing for more than 11 years. Hammond has completed graduate-level work in literature, writing, rhetoric and social sciences.