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I'm trying to write an essay but find myself tempted to spin off in too many directions. Once I do, it's difficult to weave all of the threads back together.

Any tips/resources for selecting the correct scope for an essay or structuring one to accommodate several threads? (If 1 is the absolute maximum for some reason, an explanation for that would be helpful as well.)

Thanks!

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Spinning off is a common problem if you have too many ideas. First, categorize the ideas into parts such as 'First paragraph info' then when you're writing, check the ideas off. Make sure that your idea is related to each other or you could sometimes connect it by jumping from one evidence to another. Literary devices such as comparing and contrasting, cause and effects are some examples you could use.

As long you can connect the dots with support and reasoning from the research you gather, there no need for you to solely write about one topic and getting off track.

Scope is something with more than one topic so it fine for you to write more and broader subjects, just remember how to get the detail neatly organized.

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Do you have an outline? I outline my essays paragraph by paragraph, writing what topic each paragraph is about at the top, and then number, lets say, bulletpoints 1-6 and fill those in with details. If you're spinning off topic, it might help to reference the outline again and see where you left off. You could also keep a checklist to remind yourself of things you've missed.

It might also help to have a topic and clincher in each paragraph, which is when the first sentence in the paragraph and the last sentence are similar and tie into each other to give a basic summary of what the paragraph is about. A topic sentence is, well, stating your topic, and your clincher sentence restates or reinforces what the topic was about.

Hope this helps!

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  • Thanks for the reply! My outline is pretty basic/probably not the best it could be. Any recommendations/resources for outlining effectively come to the top of your mind?
    – Tom Cotter
    Apr 22 at 14:41
  • @TomCotter I use Google Drive to outline my essays but you could also do it by hand if you really wanted to. When outlining, I've always been taught to limit your details to keywords rather than full sentences, just because it's clearer and ultimately less to write. I also use bibliography.com for keeping track of my sources. I find it really helpful. Apr 22 at 18:01
  • Thanks for the tips! Do you use any outline templates or is each outline custom made for whatever you're writing?
    – Tom Cotter
    Apr 23 at 2:01
  • @TomCotter I do not use a template. I just put roman numerals to indicate each paragraph, then under each roman numeral, number 1-6 (you can always do more than that or less) and fill in my details. Apr 23 at 15:09

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