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Four Directions Writing Guide

Step 1 - Spring

Spring - Picking your Topic and Creating an Argument

Yellow = Spring

  • beginnings

  • mental

  • preparing

  • awareness

  • visionary

  • creativity

  • determine energy

Pow Wow Dancer in Yellow

From: First Nations @ UW Spring Pow Wow (April 10-12, 2009)


The beginning of the essay writing process is much like the start of something new. You will need an awareness of what must be done by when, and the vision of what you wish to accomplish. During this part of the process you need to take the following first steps to map out your process so you can begin your work.


1. Read the assignment instructions.


This is an important step and you need to read your assignment sheet carefully and more than once. Make sure you understand:

  • The expectations outlined out for your paper,

  • The pre-picked topics or leading questions you need to chose from.

  • The formatting and citation details that your instructor prefers

  • How many sources you need and what type (scholarly, primary etc),

  • The final due date.

Highlight this information and keep it handy to refer back to. If you also notice some key words that have come up in class before, highlight those as well! Remember, everything on the assignment sheet is there for a reason and stick to the instructions!


2. Determine the direction you will take on the essay topic


Decide which essay topic you will discuss; do you agree or disagree with its premise, or do you see both sides of the spectrum for the topic? Is the topic something interesting for you, or can you spin the topic in a way that will follow your interests?

Still need help picking a topic?  For More Help See our Guide on RUSEARCH


3. Narrowing or Broadening your topic

In some cases, your topic and questions may be too broad to be handled successfully within the length limits of a written assignment. You will need a strategy for narrowing the focus to something more manageable.

On the other hand, some topics and questions may prove too narrow and focused for an assignment, and you need to consider ways to broaden the topic.


Here's a video that explains how to Narrow your Topic

VIDEO: Taming Your Research Topic. Georgian College Library (Closed Captioned)



Need more help with Narrowing or Broadening? See our guide on RUSEARCH



4. Create a rough thesis, (or a starting point)


A thesis is your main argument for your essay but it is not recommended to have a perfectly crafted thesis statement at the beginning stage. Instead have an idea of what you want to argue or discuss. Let that guide you through your next stage (research). If you are struggling to find sources or information on your rough thesis, feel free to tweak it as it’s just a starting ​point!

Need help generating arguments or discussion points ? See our guide on RUSEARCH

Feel free to be creative in generating your ideas - check out this handout on graphic notes and mind mapping. Find more information on
creative notes in RUSEARCH



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