Brainstorming


Well, we’ve already covered quite a lot in these blogs…how to begin the writing process, how to find useful information on the internet, and even useful keyboarding tips to speed the writer along! I believe it’s time to tackle one of the most important issues…CONTENT. Now that is a very large and general word, so we’re going to break it down and focus on two of the main aspects: Ideas, and Details. Please understand, there is more to content than JUST ideas and details, but to go over every aspect would take more time than anyone reading this could possibly have. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into…

Ideas

Personal Narrative, Research Paper, Poetry, Argumentative Essay–all writing, no matter what, begins with an idea. If you don’t have an idea when you set your pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) then STOP. The idea that you base your writing on, no matter what writing it may be, is arguably the most important part of the entire writing process. It is the base, the foundation, for your piece of writing. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story of the man who tried to build his house on sand? If you haven’t, well, it’s not too hard to guess the moral: building a house on sand is a foolish idea. In the same way, writing anything without an idea, a purpose, is foolish.

This may seem elementary or simple to you. You may be thinking “well, DUH.” I know it seems like an obvious thing, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of papers I’ve seen, from real people, who have no idea what they’re writing. It’s more common than you think. So before you ever sit down to write, think about the idea behind the paper. What are you writing about, and why are you writing it? It should be noted here that ‘because my teacher told me to’ should not be an acceptable answer. Your teacher gave you a prompt, yes–but why did you pick that particular thing to write about?

A completely fictional example: my teacher, a mean old man, tells me to write about the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I decide I want to write about the day my beloved hamster, Commodore Cuddles, died. It was the worst day in my life, and it made me view my own mortality in a different light. See? Right there, I was able to come up with what I was writing about, and why I was writing about it (or, if it’s an assignment, why I chose what I chose). This is instrumental to the writing process, because everything that gets included in my piece of writing from then on should be based around the idea of my views of mortality being influenced by Commodore Cuddles’s death.

Okay, so now we should have the idea behind your paper, which is an excellent start. To get those ideas across to the reader, though, you need…

Details

So what exactly do I mean by details? I mean who , what , where , when , why , and how . With the exception of some poetry and particular creative writing assignments, every piece of writing should be able to answer those questions. Are you writing a personal narrative? Tell me who was involved, what happened, and where , when , why , and how it happened. Writing a research paper? Tell me what you’re researching, who it might affect, and where you got the information. Tell me when the topic is or was relevant, why the reader should care, and how it might affect their lives. Every time you write something, you should attempt to answer all of these questions…and very rarely is it considered acceptable to not answer them. By answering these questions, you should be able to include most of the necessary information for any piece of writing. If we follow the metaphor of building a house that we mentioned in the ideas section, we can think of details as the walls and roof of the house. Once we have the foundation (ideas) of the house, and the walls and ceiling (details) get constructed, all we need is to add some paint, furniture, and carpet (grammar, writing style, etc.) and we have a fully functional essay! Or house.

I briefly mentioned a concept dealing with details that should also be addressed in many pieces of writing: why should the reader care about your piece of writing? More often than not, this question is a handy thing to keep in mind for persuasive essays or research papers. This can sometimes be a tough question to answer, but it is nevertheless important. If you are writing a persuasive essay about gun control, why should the reader care? How will different gun control laws affect them? Perhaps you want to write a research paper on diabetes. Again, why should the reader care? Pull up some statistics on diabetes, and let people know that it is likely they know someone who suffers from it. Let’s say your history teacher assigns you an essay about the living conditions in Colonial America. Why should anyone care? Do a comparison on the living conditions of the American Colonies and the current living conditions in your area, and remind people how good they have it. Knowing why the reader should care can be a very important detail in any piece of writing, and sometimes it can be the driving purpose behind the whole paper.

One More Thing

Well, two things, actually.

Thing the first: the things mentioned here are not the only important parts of content. Content is a massive concept, and we could spend all day talking about it if necessary. What’s included here are just some of the issues that I feel are important. Truly, this is more of a tip-of-the-iceberg type deal.

Thing the second: even content as a whole is only one important step in the writing process. I haven’t even begun to talk about structure, organization, style, or any of a number of other important steps. My goal in telling you these things about content is to give you a springboard for ideas, and try to help you to find out what to include in your paper. After you get those things down, it will be time to move on to other problems…such as structuring your paper correctly.

So, I hereby release you to your writing! Go, and hopefully some of the things you’ve learned (or re-learned) here will help you in your writing process.

Last Updated: 2/20/2015 8:31 AM