Very broadly, consider the topic of an essay being: "Compare a popular culture song's lyrics to society."

I have chose the song "Right Now" by Fort Minor to write this essay on. To give you an idea of what the song is like, here just a few of the lyrics:

But no I'm just taking it in
Out the window of a hotel bedroom again
Tomorrow I'll be gone, I don't know when I'll be back
But in this world everything can change just like that

[Someone is] Scratching off a lotto ticket hoping for a real winner
Sneaking through the border just to work and to eat a real dinner

Essentially, the song is about the hard life of some people, including:

  • immigrants trying to make a life in America
  • homeless trying to fend for themselves: find something to eat, find somewhere to sleep
  • families of soldiers stuck in Iraq
  • etc.

and how things can change so suddenly.

So, given that broad essay topic, is the following a good outline?

Here's my outline thus far:


  • Working on a good hook
  • mention song name, artist, release date
  • bring up that life isn't easy for some
  • thesis of the final line of the chorus: "But in this world everything can change just like that."

First Paragraph

  • introduce immigrants
  • high hopes of coming into the country
  • quote: "Sneaking through the border just to work and to eat a real dinner."
  • describe how hopes can be given up due to the economy, things change, they're stuck once again in a tragic place

Second Paragraph

  • introduce homeless
  • quote: "There's somebody on the curb who really needs a jacket."
  • weather, lack of shelter, lack of food, degrades their health, they may even start bad habits
  • quote: "[He] spent half the rent at a bar getting plastered." and now he has to walk "to a shop where he's about to get fired."
  • Do I need more here?

Third Paragraph

  • introduce soldiers and their families
  • quote: "For the act of freedom ... somebody is stuck in Iraq hoping that he gets shipped back breathing."
  • Change in lifestyles for the soldier (new fears of life) and the family (begging and praying their beloved one will make it back)
  • devasting when all of a sudden someone gets drafted
  • I'm concerned that this paragraph needs to be restructured


  • Many ways in this world where everything takes a sudden shift for the worse
  • quote: "I'm just taking it in, out [of] a hotel bedroom window again. Tomorrow I'm gone, [and] I don't know when I'll be back."
  • Working on a good way to wrap this up
  • Welcome. If this isn't homework feel free to retag, but if it is please leave the tag so that our community knows to answer this in a way that helps without doing your work for you.
    – justkt
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 14:16
  • Well, technically it is a midterm paper, which I believe could be classified as homework. However, I finished the piece and turned it in today. Should this question be closed, or left open for other users to see?
    – Mxyk
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 2:03
  • 1
    it should be left open. Questions should only be closed if they meet one of our closing criteria, which this does not.
    – justkt
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


To answer the question in your title: yes! The question that I don't see asked is how long is your essay supposed to be? Is there a word limitation or expectation? If so, then that will influence the length of your essay and help dictate how much you need in your outline.

As for the outline itself, I believe you have a very good working start. I like the way that you have identified three separate talking points along with specific quotes from the song to tie into each one. I have to admit I have never heard this song, but based on the lyrics you have quoted, I believe it is something I would like to check out.

As far as whether you need more in the second paragraph or need to restructure the third paragraph, keep in mind that this is just an outline. The final content will determine what needs to be changed. Let the outline guide you, and often I find that keeping it simple, as you have done, makes it easier for you to write. If you spend too much time and effort on the outline, you'll find yourself never progressing beyond that because you're constantly trying to perfect the outline.

The fact that you have identified each separate section as a paragraph leads me to think that the overall essay is going to be pretty short in length. If that is true, then you should have plenty to work with based on what you have. If each "paragraph" is actually a separate "section", I still believe you have enough to work with. Now start writing!

  • Thank you for the insight! I actually agree with everything you have stated here, and following these guidelines, I finished the essay. It turned out to be a little over 3 pages in length (there was no specification for length however).
    – Mxyk
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 2:04

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