A Good Order for Ideas
A subject is like a crystal, with many facets seen from different points of view. Choose one point of view and stick with it.First of all, be sure of your point of view. You can’t cover everything you know about your topic. It would take too much time and would make your writing cumbersome and dull. Rather, choose a point of view—the position from which you’ll look at your subject. This is another aspect of point of view, in addition to knowing whether you’ll write in first or third person. Once you’ve found an appropriate point of view, you’ll know which parts of your subject to discuss, as well as which to skip, and you’ll see a natural order emerge for what you want to say.In this example, let’s say your chosen point of view is against social media. You can skipeverything except a discussion of whether using social media is good or bad, and you can divide what you write into two main parts: arguments forsocial media and arguments againstit. You may ask yourself, “Why show the other side?” To present an effective argument, a writer must not only defend one side but refute the other (show why it’s wrong), while recognizing that the other side does have a case (even if it’s wrong in the long run).When you’ve chosen your point of view, you should start to prepare your thesis statement.The thesis statement is perhaps the most important element of any written work,so the sooner you begin to narrow your topic to a specific statement, the easier it will become to order your ideas. Remember, a thesis declares the main idea of the entire paper. It is concise, summarizing your point in one clear sentence.At this point, you may not have refined your statement, but you should be able to communicate the main idea in a sentence. In this example, your thesis might begin as, "Social media does more harm than good." This will not be your final statement becauseit does not yet have enough information to support the point of view. However, it can serve as placeholder to order your ideas around.
Next, you’ll decide the order you want to follow.You might present the case for social media first and the case against it (the side you’re on) afterward. Or you might start off with your own side, then show what the arguments are on the other side, and wind up by showing why your arguments are stronger than those of the opposition.Naturally, you could write about social media from many other points of view, too. You could write about its history. You could discuss the opportunities it offers for someone who’s looking for a job. Or you could write about how it helps some people and how it hurts others. In each case, your point of view would lead you to a different side of the subject and to a different order in writing about it.
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- Spring '14