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EN 102 First Year Writing: Brainstorming

A course guide for students enrolled in EN102

Broad to Narrow Keywords




At the beginning of the writing process, it is important that you analyze your topic and familiarize yourself with different ways of expressing your ideas. When you write, it is good to have an idea of how your topic is situated within the bigger picture! Mapping your topic also helps you think of different search terms you can use to find sources.


You can use the links to dictionaries and encyclopedias below to help you map your topic. Dictionaries and Encyclopedias provide detailed background information and will help you understand how your topic is related to broader ideas, and will also help you break your topic down into sections.

After you decide what you are interested in writing about, your first step in actually writing your paper is defining your topic. This step involves doing some background investigating using a dictionary or encyclopedia, and also brainstorming your topic to identify all of it's aspects!



Once you decide what topic you want to write about, the dictionary is a great place to start your research. It's possible that you already have a good idea what the words in your research question mean, but you'll be surprised what you can learn about the rhetorical significance of a word when you look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary or the Thematic Dictionary of American Slang!

Brainstorming Resources