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What is This All About? - Some Ways To Establish a Focus

After you have collected many ideas for a complex paper, you may still be uncertain about your focus. Re-read your collection of ideas to make sure that you haven't drifted away from the assigned topic or essay question. To establish a focus, you can

  • Notice "nuggets" of meaning: what are the undeveloped chunks of insight which are loaded with meaning for you? Can you develop a paper by explaining, "polishing" these ideas so a reader will agree with your viewpoint?
  • Sum up your ideas in a "nutshell": in one sentence, what do you think? Is this assertion worthy of a paper?
  • Look for sources of tension: what ideas suggest two different angles or perspectives? Is there even a contradiction which you can explore?
  • Imagine an opposing viewpoint: who would disagree with you and how can you state your opinion persuasively?