There is no way that you will make it through college without having to write a few papers. Whether it is an English class, or another course, papers are an inevitable part of graduating. There will be times when the topic for a paper
will be assigned by the professor and other times when the choice will be left up to you. Although choosing your own topic can seem like something that will enhance your project, there are times when it can actually be a detriment. Understanding what the professor is looking for, and choosing a topic that best demonstrates what it is intended to, will make the difference between a great paper and a mediocre one.
The reason that a professor assigns a paper to write is because they either want you to show a command of the topic, a command of the rules of grammar, or a command of the type of paper that they are assigning. Figuring out what the intention of the paper is, and why it is being assigned, is key to finding a topic that will fit the goal of the assignment and to earn you a good grade. No matter what paper you are attempting to write, deciding the topic should not be something you do lightly. There are many different types of papers that you will have to write, understanding why you are writing them, is important to picking the topic which will best demonstrate your skills.
What are the different types of papers?
There are many different kinds of papers that you can be assigned. The topic that you choose to write about will have a huge bearing on the kind of paper you are writing. Some of the kinds of papers you will be asked to write are:
- General essays
- Argumentative/persuasive essays
- Research papers
- Book reviews
- Creative writing assignments
- Analytical essays
Each has a different reason for being written and will demand that you use a different style. That style should dictate the topic that you choose. If you pick a topic that is not a good example of the style of writing, you will not get the grade that you are hoping for. The topic is as important as the paper itself. It is the guiding force of the information that will be contained within it. Considering the type of paper, and how it needs to be formulated, should be done before choosing a topic, as well as after a topic is chosen, to make sure it is an appropriate one.
Picking the best topic for the type of paper you are writing
There are several questions that you should ask yourself before you decide on a topic to write about:
- How much do I know about the topic?
- What is my feeling about it, am I passionate about it?
- Will it help to demonstrate my mastery of the type of paper?
- Will it be interesting to the reader?
- Is it relative to the class I am writing it for?
- Will I be able to find proof to back it?
- Is there enough information to back my assertions?
These questions will help you to pick the best topic to show your understanding of the subject and the overall assignment you have been given. It is best to chose a topic that you know a lot about when writing a paper
. If you don't know much about it, then you will be starting from scratch and may find that it is uninteresting, or something that you care little about. If you already have the knowledge of the subject, completing a paper will be much easier to do.
Finding a paper that you are passionate about will not only make it more interesting to you, but it will come through in your writing. If you are writing about something that you find boring it will be hard to convey any excitement to the reader, or to make them interested in it either. Finding a topic that you are passionate, or at a minimum interested in, will come through in your writing and will more likely engage the reader. If you are to present a paper that chooses one side over another, make sure that there is another side. If the answer to your topic is obvious, you won't be able to effectively present more than one side, which for an argumentative paper will demonstrate that you really don't understand the reason why you are writing it to begin with.
Knowing who your audience is is important to finding a way to present it to them in a way that will entertain and engage them. If you are writing for a serious audience, you will write in a formal voice, finding information that is serious is important. Likewise, if it is a creative piece, finding something that is more entertaining than informative is important to the finished product. Finally, if you are writing an informative piece, or research article, it is important to have enough relative information to use, or to back your proposed thesis. Making sure there is enough information to support your assertions is imperative to making a relative work that others will want to read.
How to make the right decision?
Choosing your topic is sometimes comparable to the overall product you write. It is your guide to the finished work. When a teacher assigns a paper they are not only looking for whether it is well written, they are looking to see if you understand the nature of the type of paper you are writing and your mastery of the topic, as well as the intention of the paper overall. It is important to understand why the professor is asking you to write the paper and what they are looking for you to include in it. The type of paper you are writing should dictate the choice of subject you choose.
Using a general guideline to make sure that you are covering the information needed, engaging and entertaining the audience, and answering the questions you are being asked to, is key to getting the grade that you are looking for. If you are not paying attention to all aspects of the assignment, including the type of paper you are writing is the key to getting the grade you feel you deserve.