Essay Paper Writing: Organizing Thinking to Generate Main Points

Essay Paper Writing: Organizing Thinking to Generate Main Points
In the article Essay Paper Writing -- Step 1: Organize Thinking to Create Focused Topic Statement by this author, a process is described for organizing one's thinking about a topic in some class assignment directions in order to develop a clear statement about the assignment general topic. In that article the general topic statement developed was "A review of a current newspaper article that discusses black officers in the U.S.military." Once there is a clear topic statement, then follows the process of organizing one's thinking about what might be various points related to the topic. How does one do this?
The goal in developing the main points related to the general topic is to determine three main points to be made about the topic. Why three main points? The rationale is if a person has less than three main points to make about a specific topic, then that person doesn't know enough about the topic to be presenting it, and if a person has four or more main points, then that person does not have his or her information well enough organized to be presenting it. Three main points is ideal, three being one of those magic numbers in human civilization -- it takes three sides to form a triangle (the simplest complete figure) -- a communication is well structured if it has three main points. Also, having three clearly stated main points increases the chances the reader will remember those points.

There are two possible situations -- the three main points may be determined from an analysis of the class assignment directions or they may not. Related to the example class assignment used in the previous article, the following was included in the assignment directions:

• Did the article attempt to address diversity represented in American society?

• To what extent did the article rely on stereotypes when depicting certain groups?

• Assess whether or not the selected article fostered a better understanding of diversity and multiculturalism.

From this list of items in the example paper assignment directions, the main points to be made are not a challenge to determine:

• describe the cultural diversity discussed in the selected article and compare to cultural diversity in U.S.society

• explain stereotypes used in the selected article

• explore whether the article fostered a better understanding of culture diversity and multiculturalism

So these become the three main points to be made in the paper about the general topic based on the class assignment description.

If the assignment directions do not describe points to be covered in the assignment, then a person might use brainstorming -- just Google "brainstorming technique" and note the many possible tools. The main idea in brainstorming is to create thoughts about the stated topic. The example topic "black officers in U.S.military" has been determined -- so this would be the focus for brainstorming in this example. To brainstorm this topic, just write or type the topic at top of a clean page and under it start listing ideas related to the topic. For example, this author might generate the following ideas related to "black officers in U.S.military:"

• history of black officers in U.S.military

• percent of black officers in U.S.military compared to percent of all black personnel in U.S.military

• performance examples of black officers in U.S.military

• programs in U.S.military to promote officer candidates from black military personnel

• challenges facing black officers in U.S.military

• programs to promote cultural diversity in the U.S.military

• aspects of black culture in the U.S.military

Focus thinking about topic related ideas on what has been, or is being, discussed in the related class and/or discussed in whatever class assigned readings. If in doing this no ideas related to the topic are generated, then conduct some preliminary research on the topic from which some ideas may be developed.

Once some ideas have been listed as above, then prioritize the ideas related to the general topic -- arrange the ideas in order of what is valued as the importance of the ideas related to the topic. For example, if there was discussion in class about "challenges facing black officers in U.S.military," then this author would rank that idea first in the list of ideas. Here would be the author's ranking of the ideas generated via brainstorming the topic:

• challenges facing black officers in U.S.military

• programs in U.S.military to promote officer candidates from black military personnel

• performance examples of black officers in U.S.military.

So these top three ideas would be the three main points to be made in the paper about the general topic. Notice they are different from the three main points developed from the assignment directions. Main points are not found or discovered but are created by the person developing the paper, so there may be a wide variety of main points that might be considered for any paper. However, for developing the main points for a college or high school paper, keep focused on what has been or is being discussed in the class and/or discussed in any class assigned readings.

Whether the three main points may be determined from the assignment directions or developed using a brainstorming process, notice how the thinking about the paper has been organized into a clear statement about what is the general topic and three clearly stated main points intended to be made about that topic. With this information, that infamous thesis statement may be formed -- but the development of the thesis statement and using it as a guide to develop the paragraphs in the paper is addressed in a later article.

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