There are no “secrets” to developing essays (persuasive, argumentative), term papers, or research papers — so much information available about the topic. So from all that information, have you developed an understanding of some basic factors in paper writing for a high school or college assignment?
In the author’s understanding there are three basic areas to consider when writing a paper. First is organizing one’s thinking about the topic of the paper. Many persons appear to assume the human brain automatically organizes information — and it does, but not necessarily in a way that is effective for communicating that information to others either verbally or in writing. The brain automatically relates new information to any relevant information a person possesses already — this is what produces that “stream of consciousness” about a topic which results in too much information being communicated. So in building more effective written communications, like essays and term papers and research papers, it is desirable for a person to work at organizing whatever information he or she has or might locate about a topic.
To begin organizing one’s thinking about a topic, a clear statement of the general topic is desirable and, usually, may be derived from the assignment directions. For example, the following might be included in an assignment — “…review a current article that discusses or illustrates the portrayal of some aspect of cultural diversity in U.S.society.” For such an assignment one might generate a statement like “The general topic of this paper is a review of some article that discusses or illustrates the portrayal of some aspect of cultural diversity in U.S.society.” Notice in this statement the phrases “a current article” and “discusses or illustrates” and “some aspect,” all too broad to focus your thinking about the general topic. How to refine this pattern of thinking to make it more focused?
Assume a relevant newspaper article is located – then instead of “a current article” one might think “a current newspaper article” — notice how this refines the initial statement. With an article located one might determine the article “discusses” some aspect of cultural diversity, so substitute “discusses” for “discusses or illustrates.” Also, once an article has been located, then one might substitute the particular aspect of cultural diversity discussed in the article and substitute that for “some aspect.” For example, one might refine the initial statement of the general topic of this assignment like “A review of a current newspaper article that discusses black officers in the U.S.military.” Notice how this narrows the focus of the general topic, providing a person with a much more effective pattern of thinking to use to express the general topic thus serving as a more effective basis for organizing one’s thinking related to this general topic. Note, also, this statement will serve as the basis for the first sentence in what is commonly called the introductory paragraph. Also notice in this process that some research was involved to locate a relevant article prior to refining one’s thinking about the general topic.
It is desirable to write the refined statement of the general topic at the top of a blank page so that it will be available for review while additional thinking about this general topic is being organized. If a person is using a mapping technique for organizing thinking, in the center circle of the map will be something like “black officers in U.S.military.” Using what is in that center circle, thoughts about that topic will be in the other circles or spokes generated around that center circle. A tool for “mind mapping” is available at
Once there is a clear statement of the general topic, then comes the process of organizing one’s thinking about what might be various points (thoughts) related to the topic in the center circle – but this process is for another article.