Brainstorming and Outlining Your Essay
Article Type: Quick and Dirty
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You look at the essay prompt. You look at your blank Word document. You look at your essay prompt. You look at your blank Word document.
Okay, time for a break. You're going about this the wrong way. Your essay isn't just going to magically spring out of your fingertips (at least, we hope not, because that would be painful). First, before you do anything, you need an idea. And where do ideas come from? Brainstorms.
Most students choose a prompt before brainstorming their college application essay. And most of the time, that works. But sometimes the reverse works just as well. Before you start thinking about specific essay prompts, we think it's important for you to think about what makes you unique. The best stories make the best essays, so what story can you (and only you) tell really, really well? What's super important to you? What's the one quality you possess that makes you a little bit different from the rest of the students at your high school?
Finished? Well, wasn't that fun.
Time to click on this link, grab a snack, and Shmoop your way to the college essay of your dreams.
Or, scroll down for some survival tips from our college essay-writing experts. You could also keep both windows open. Live dangerously. All of the options are options, you know.
Four Steps To Surviving A Brainstorm
1. Read the essay prompt. Observe it in its natural habitat. Understand what the prompt is really asking for. Focus on key words, like “contribution” or “accomplishment”, “challenge” or “diversity.”
2. Write down what comes into your head. Use a piece of paper and a pen or your laptop, we don't care. The ideas will come thick and fast, and your job is to jot everything – everything – down. Don't second-guess yourself. Don't censor. This is a brainstorm: the forecast is calling for heavy showers of ideas, and you gotta catch 'em all. (Wait, that's Pokémon.)
3. Detach yourself from the writing utensil of your choice. Once the ideas are no longer pinging around your brain, once your mind is empty, you need to stand up and go do something else. Let those ideas marinate like a good steak. Mmmm, steak. Don't return to your page full of ideas for at least a day.
4. Revisit what you wrote down. Some of your ideas are going to leap out at you because they are beautiful and fabulous and essay gold. Hold them close: you've survived the brainstorm.
Outlining your Essay
You've gotta start somewhere (the mud pit on the football field? Starbucks?) and when you're writing an essay, that somewhere is typically an outline (ohhh, the groaning!).
Now that you've selected your essay topic and prompt, you may be raring to go, but trust us, starting with an outline will save you time in the long run.
An outline is an important first step in the essay-writing process. It helps you focus in on the best details to include and forces you to think about how each section connects with the next. Writing an essay without an outline can result in rambling, unfocused paragraphs. Don't go there. It's more terrifying than hugging a lion.
Start by breaking your essay down into four or five parts: an intro, two to three supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion. But don't worry—no one will be checking for thesis statements or asking for an annotated bibliography. This is just an easy way to organize your ideas, and to keep your essay at a length that will meet the Common App word limit requirements.
For more help brainstorming, check out our handy College Essay Lab. Trust us.
Creative writing is one of the most open-minded, and free-spirited writing prompts that a student will face in either high school or college. This essay falls into the category of narrative essays since it allows the student to use their self-expression as well as trains them to stretch their imagination! In other words, this would be the antonym of an analytical or persuasive essay, because it does not use technicalities.
Table Of Contents
What Is A Creative Essay
As stated previously, this is a style of essay that forces a student to look past guidelines and set structures. In this scenario, your job is to create a story. Not just any story, but one that has an interesting plot as well as a compelling path! The beautiful thing about this is that there are not any topic restrictions; you actually get to be creative! Sometimes, a professor may narrow down the topics into an individual category, but when it comes to writing out the paper, you must create your own path!
Topics And Ideas
Before putting yourself into work, you should pick the right paper topic that you will be talking about. Here we got some fresh creative essay topics from our top writer to make your choice easier:
- Explain an event in your life that spiraled out of control and flipped its course.
- Create a scenario that directs the end of the world.
- Camouflage the concept of love in a story that is completely irrelevant.
- Design in a story in which one person’s beliefs or ideas helped reform the future of society.
- Propose a scenario in the distant future in which technology controls all.
- Describe something that you can’t live without; it might be your hobby or a thing that you are dedicated to.
- Express your thoughts about a topic that hurts you.
- Imagine that you became invisible for one day, what would you do?
- What would your reaction be if one day you woke up in someone else’s body
Naturally, you can create one that is completely unique to you and the ideas that you form. These are here to get you started on the right path towards a brilliant story!
General Tips Pre-Writing
I know, you might be eager to start jotting down notes and ideas right away since this is such a liberating assignment, but it would be intelligent to organize your efforts. Here are some creative writing steps to take before you start working on the next Wizard of Oz!
Choose Your Subject/Topic: Before you begin anything else, set your telescope on the theme that you would like to write about. It does not necessarily have to be one that you are well-versed in; rather, pick a topic that intrigues you but also one that can teach you a thing or two. This leads us to our next step!
Do Some Research: Even if you have chosen a subject that is second nature to you, it is always important to investigate deeper into the topic. Every time you start carefully studying an issue, you will find more facts and key points that will be included in your creative masterpiece! Use several sources and mix them together to create the best sounding story of your writing career!
Plan Out the Essay (How, What, When, Where, Who): These are five questions that must be answered while typing out your story. Make sure that a precise setting is introduced and keep your audience tuned into the story. Boredom is your worst enemy! * Formatting the story ahead of time allows for a clear thought process as well as having an excellent preview of what is to come.
Record Ideas (Keep a Log): Outside of the time that you are working on the story, it is a good idea to keep a journal. Sometimes, out of the blue, thoughts and ideas will come into your mind that could improve the style of your essay. Even if it may seem unfitting, writing them down at a constant rate could mix two ideas that create something exceptional!
Write a rough draft: Try to focus on the flow of the information and put some of your ideas on paper in chronological order, don’t hurry, stay cool-headed and from time to time reread what you have already written.
Put everything in right order: Read your rough draft again, exclude all unnecessary information, lay out your thoughts in chronological order, watch the flow of your ideas, provide a smooth transition from one idea to another, your essay shouldn’t be messy.
Start Writing the Essay: Once you have a format that is satisfactory, it is time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and gradually build your tale. As you use your structure to guide you along the way, it may be possible that things do not flow as nicely as you may have expected. This is not a problem and editing the planner is definitely an easy and effective way of making sure that the writing is still focused on your initial plans.
When you have already chosen what you are going to write about, you should design a creative essay title. It’s a big question, which might take you plenty of time to think of about. Below you will be able to find some tips, the purpose of which will be simplifying the creation of the best title.
First and foremost your title should be catchy, the purpose of the title is to grab the reader’s attention as soon as he had read the title.
One way of doing it is to use a “flashback” as the title of your creative essay, and it will let your future readers understand what kind of story you have written.
The other one is summing up the story that you have written in three words. If your essay is about love, your title might be “Love, Hate, Despair: The story of a broken heart.”
Likewise, you may use any quote which relates to your essay in general, but still, this quote should be powerful enough to grab your reader’s attention.
Also, your title may be the main idea of your essay, for example, if your essay is about your hobby or your biggest passion in life, then title may be “The quintessence of my life“
The creative essay outline follows the standard essay structure; there is an Introduction, followed by a Body and ends with a Conclusion! Each one plays a major role in plot development, and the amount of variety that exists in the formatting of this essay is quite large! However, the most effective and commonly used procedure is the Oxford method which introduces the 3-Point-Structure. This involves: The Set Up -> Confrontation -> Resolution.
Set Up: Usually written in the intro, the set up includes the establishment of the characters and their relationships to each other. Who are friends with who? What are the predetermined connections between the members of the group? Allow the readers to start inferring about plot development with the information that you have laid out.
Confrontation: Written in the body, the story must have a Turning Point. This is a point of conflict where smooth sailing turns into a heavy storm. This moment can be expected by clue-giving plot development or can come out of nowhere. That depends on what you as the writer decide to do. For example, you can start hinting that things feel eerie and off in the plot but then straighten everything back to normal without changing anything major. Or, the story could be advancing smoothly, and all of a sudden, something major happens, and the plot makes a sharp turn!
Resolution: After passing the turning point, the drama in the story will have sharpened and slowly settled down. At some eventual point, the drama will kick up back up again and will reach a peak moment! Now, this can either be at the very end of the story (cliffhanger), or this can be told somewhere in the middle or beginning. Once again, this depends on you as the writer!
As with any narration, the first step that must be performed is setting up the scene. Describe the time of day, place or location, and give a background of the current situation. This initial set up is vital because it sets the mood and flow of the entire story. That being said, make sure to spark up the setting as much as possible to create an excellent illustration in the reader’s mind. Use vivid details; things such as personifications, metaphors, and symbols are a great way to shake up the story from the start! A very common tactic used by famous writers is to throw the reader right into the action. For example, the story could start out with somebody getting murdered, or it could be a flash forward into an event that will occur later on. Since this is your story, create an intro that is exciting to read and make it unique in accordance with your style!
The bodies are used to develop the plot and move the story forward. However, these paragraphs can also be used to change up the mood and tempo. Since your great introduction set the base for those two aspects, it is not a bad idea to change it up. For example, if the story is moving at a slow rate, as the author you can input the confrontation right then and there. This catches the reader off guard and switches up the mood and tempo of the narration. You can also create a false confrontation, keeping your readers on their toes.
The conclusion usually allows the writer to tidy up the plot. Create a set-up, present a confrontation and sum things up with a resolution. Most of the time, the conclusion will not build up to the peak of the story, but many professional writers use cliffhangers. This is a writing technique that allows the author to leave the story unfinished and leave the audience in a cloud of suspense, never to be truly discovered. Movies and TV shows such as Inception, The Sopranos and 28 Days Later use this fascinating technique, and although it may seem infuriating, it is a brilliant way to end a story…. Or not! Overall, the goal of the conclusion is to leave a strong impression in the reader’s mind!
Immediately after finishing your work of art, take a mental break (trust me it is necessary). As a writer, you have drained a lot of mental energy on creating a story that is unique and exciting to read, so take some time off and remove your eyes from the screen! Afterward, make sure to do three essential tasks to have a fully finished custom creative essay!
- Re-Read and Check the Tempo: When initially writing out the intro, the narration started out a certain pace. As the plot progressed, so did the flow of the story; it may have sped up or slowed down. The point is to make sure that the flow is satisfactory. On the one hand, having a bored reader is no fun, but neither is having one that cannot process everything being hurled at him!
- Check for Grammatical Errors and Use a Thesaurus: Remember we talked about using vivid details? Yeah, this is rather important, so throwing a thesaurus into your game is not a bad idea as it adds style points to the story and allows you to explain things in a more illustrious manner. Also, having grammatical errors is never a good thing in any essay, so make sure they do not interrupt with the reader’s comprehension of your narration.
- Have a Peer to do some Proofreading: It is practically impossible to catch every mistake you make as a writer. Have a friend or your teacher proofread your work for two main reasons: the first is to eliminate any unnoticed grammatical mistakes, and the second is to make sure the story makes sense to an outside party. Sure, as the writer, you know what you are trying to say, but a different brain may have trouble comprehending your word painting. If both of those traits are perfect, then you will have a second pair of eyes to let you know that it is good to go!
Example Of A Creative Essay
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
TutorPro, from EssayPro
Creative writing essays are my personal favorite. A few pieces of advice that relate to each stage of writing mentioned in the essay. During the prewriting stage, my tip is to do a “jam-write.” Jam writing is an exercise that will help your writer's block. Once you have your idea, sit down in a quiet room and write non-stop for five minutes. After you’ve done that, you can begin writing your creative piece. This exercise helps you get things off your mind and refine your idea. During the writing stage, my advice for you is not to edit while you write. This will get you off of your writing flow. Edit your piece a couple of days after you’ve finished writing. This will help you see more of your mistakes. After you have finished as much self-revision as possible, let another person read it. A common mistake here, however, is that letting many people edit your writing might take away your unique writing voice. Therefore, if their comments don’t appeal to you, then you don’t have to take their advice.
Need Some Creative Writing Help?
Maybe you are just a left-brained individual, and things such as logic and rational ideas come more naturally to you than illustrious sentences. Do not be intimidated as we are not all meant to be naturally born authors. Thankfully EssayPro, the best custom essay writing service on the web, has professional paper writers that have written more creative tasks than you have seen in your life. Since creative writing is a unique concept, each one of EssayPro writing service experts can paint a story with words that will leave you in awe. Have some doubts? Test our writers today!