If you've brainstormed enough information in steps two and three, your next step is to create three categories of ideas. As you work through this step in the planning process, you will see where you might need to add more examples and ideas to previous steps. For example, if you only have enough stuff for two categories, you know you are going to need to brainstorm a little more. Ultimately, these categories will be listed in your thesis statement and will become the topics of your three body paragraphs.
"Categories of ideas" means label the kinds of examples you are using, according to how they accomplish the author's purpose as stated in your theme statement. A good guiding question for this might be:
- Broadly speaking, how does the author prove the [theme statement] in three ways?
Let's use our Romeo and Juliet example. If we answer the above question, some categories that might encompass all of the brainstormed examples could include:
- [lies], [murder], and [suicide].
So your teacher has informed you that a three page paper "On Romeo and Juliet" is due Friday. It is now Thursday night and you haven't even begun. You have no idea where to start.
Writing an "A" essay, easily and quickly, is all about asking the right questions. If your teacher has given you a fairly broad assignment, like the one above, the first rule you need understand is that summaries will no longer cut it. Teachers and professors don't want to see that you understand the plot of a story. That was your 4th grade teacher. High school and college is more about analyzing themes (big picture ideas from a story that are applicable to real life) and an author's literary merit (as in, what kind of techniques are used to accomplish the goal).
When tackling a generic essay assignment, the best place to begin is to create a theme statement. This is a one sentence statement that explains something the author is trying to convey about life, the world, humanity, or something else, through the story. Asking and answering the right questions will guide you into writing a proper theme statement, which can then become a great thesis statement (you know, that magical sentence in your introduction that defines your entire essay).
Yeah, great, I get that. But how do I start?