Good question. Begin any writing project with these:
- What is my subject?
- What is my purpose?
- What is my audience?
Knowing the answers to these questions will prepare you to begin writing whatever it is you need to write. Essentially, the answers to these questions provide the foundation of your essay: what you are writing; why you are writing; and for whom you are writing it. The answers will depend greatly on each other: just knowing your subject will give you no direction for what to do with the subject, nor will it tell you how to approach the subject — to what level of detail it needs to be addressed.
For example, if you determine “computers” for your subject, you still have no direction: what about them? and who needs to know it? If you choose “elementary school students” as your audience, then you limit the degree, or technical level, you can use in your essay. Finally, what do elementary school students need to know about computers? By answering this question, you gain your purpose.
Once you have figured out the answers to these important questions, write them down. Continually refer to them (and revise them when necessary) as you compose as they will guide your tone, point of view, vocabulary, level of detail — in short, everything about your essay. Do not lose sight of them.
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