how to write an essay
 
Step 3: Brainstorming

Find an original idea

Brainstorming is the art of thinking critically to discover original, hidden insights about a topic. Assuming you've done a fair amount of research, you should now have a solid base of concepts to play around with for an essay. The task is now to stand on the shoulders of the scholars you've read and find something original to say about the topic. It is not enough to regurgitate what they have said. You must go beyond them to propose an original idea. Your paper should expose some new idea or insight about the topic, not just be a collage of other scholars' thoughts and research -- although you will definitely rely upon these scholars as you move toward your point.

Use different techniques

Since the days of Aristotle, a variety of "invention techniques" or "heuristics" have been used for coming up with ideas. Depending on your topic, some invention techniques may work better than others. The overall goal when using any method is to discover unique ideas that take you and your reader beyond the obvious. The following wheel briefly describes nine of the most common methods for finding ideas. After reading the brief descriptions of each technique, download the Brainstorm Now file (a Word document), and begin brainstorming by answering the questions asked you.

 

 

 


Tom Johnson. tjohnson@aucegypt.edu. Updated May 2004.