The development of essay ideas is a crucial step in ensuring that one comes up with an interesting piece. It’s crucial especially if it concerns an end of semester assignment, one which every student must carry out based on either a topic selected by the professor or the student. As such, you need to have advanced thinking to develop your essay ideas. It involves different techniques and a series of steps, which can apply at any stage especially during the research process. Remember that every essay idea you have must be well researched to help you come up with a sound argument.

It will reach a point when you will feel disillusioned especially when you face a white and blank sheet of paper. To fill it up with words, you have to first think of something around which everything will revolve. Writing in general; has become a part of a student’s life especially in higher institutions of learning. The ideas that you develop today will become history through the type of essays that you write. So as you think about it, bear in mind that in the near future, your work will be used as a model for others. Developing essay topic ideas must be well thought to enable settling on the best topic.

Idea development

This process involves the following steps:

  • Identifying the topic for your essay
  • Comprehensive research on the essay topic
  • The structure of your essay based on the information you find
  • Identifying the topic for your essay

When you have a topic for your essay, you have to research on it by reviewing all manner of relevant literature. However, the question is, where do you start? You have two approaches to help you, and they include, general to specific and specific to general

General to specific – This becomes useful in chances where you can determine your research question and your area of study is broad. You need to gather all the relevant information about your study. Use elicitation to break down your area of study into inter-related concepts. Subsequently, come up with a visual record of the process as you identify the gaps or areas that there is no certainty. Finally, in this approach, you come up with a list of possible questions for your research.

Specific to general – This approach works if you have a narrowly defined topic in place. As always, you have to gather all the relevant information on your topic. Use the elicitation technique to expand your point of view about the original question. Visualise and record the process. Identify any areas that you are not sure of and finally, formulate a list of possible questions that do not go off the main idea for your piece.

Both approaches employ the elicitation technique as well as visual records. Both techniques help the user to identify an area of study from a holistic, global, and non-linear perspective. In such a case, you get unique insights crucial for the creation of an original research question of an idea for your essays.

Help with formulating and developing essay ideas

Most students find it difficult to come up with different essay ideas, be it persuasive essay ideas of any other type of essay. However, the development of these ideas does not have to be hard. Some of the techniques you can invoke include mind-mapping, brainstorming, information obtained from personal collection, bibliographic software packages and so on. Other students opt for online writing services to get their ideas or essays done altogether. Whichever the case, it is crucial to look at these techniques of developing essay ideas.

Mind mapping

This technique is important when you want to frame a research question, plan your essay or a literature review. It comes in handy also when taking notes during a meeting. These mind maps or concept maps represent the information visually in the way that the brain maps the concept.  It is a non-linear or interconnected view, and they make use of colour, symbols, and images as stimulants to the brain cell.

The implementation of the mind map in the research process is to state what you already know about the topic. It helps you to identify what you miss in your knowledge about the topic. It also comes in handy when planning literature research. What you do is:

  • Start with a coloured image at the centre of a paper
  • Use many images throughout the mind map
  • Print the words in capital letters
  • Put the printed words on each line and should be connected to other lines
  • Put one word per line
  • Use colour to help memory and enhance creativity
  • Be spontaneous and do not pause to think, do everything on the paper.


You can do this on your own or in a group. You start with a single word or concept that connects to your research topic. Record anything and everything that associates with this word or idea. If you run out of good essay topic ideas, you can try to come up with a relationship diagram for your topic. With brainstorming, you have four rules:

  • No criticism, meaning your judgement must come after you have gathered all the ideas
  • Freewheel helps you to write anything without inhibition
  • Quantity helps you to come up with as many ideas as possible
  • Hitchhike helps you build on other people’s ideas to enhance collaboration and the process of developing your ideas, be it for persuasive essay topics, or a research paper.

Information from the personal collection

You collect a huge amount of information from your research. Sometimes it is hard to conceptualise, organise, structure, and manage all this information. Elicitation helps you to conceptualise and the structure all your collected information.

Developing good essay topic ideas allows you to express yourself on the topic, whether it is an exam or not. Using the above techniques can go a long way in breaking the anxiety that always creeps in especially when you have to think about what you are going to write. Idea development generally requires critical thinking, which you ought to have all the time.