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16.2 Techniques for Writing: Limiting a Topic

Once you have explored your ideas on a topic through freewriting or clustering (see Your Writing) you are in a position to select which ideas you'd like to develop. That means shifting your focus from the broad view to a narrower one. If you've been exploring a topic in freewriting, you can circle one or two sentences or phrases and put the rest aside. If you've been clustering, you can circle some clusters for focus and ignore the others. There are three steps in limiting your topic:
  1. Look for connections among the ideas you have recorded.
  2. Let some ideas go for now.
  3. Find a phrase that shows the connection among the ones you keep.

The clustering sample below shows how a student moved from a starting topic, football, to a limited one: the role that football has played in my education.

Apply this technique to your writing: Study your freewriting or your clustering for ideas that are connected. If there are several connections, pick the one that interests you the most. Circle the items you've chosen. Write a phrase that identifies your new limited topic.

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