Here’s the problem: you’ve typed a page or so, which amounts to about 250 words or thereabouts. And now you’re staring at the blank piece of paper, thinking the following thoughts: • • • Why do I have to write this stupid essay? ! I’m not even a Writing major – why do I have to do this? Why can’t the word requirement be one page? What, there’s not enough out there in the world for my professor to read? • When am I ever going to finish this?
Hey, if you have any thoughts other than those, please feel free to share with me and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I collect these (just kidding).
How do I know? Well, I’ve been there, and that’s how I know. And, luckily for myself and now for you, I have figured out how to handle essay writing, especially when I don’t feel like writing anything at all. And I’m going to share a technique with you that you can go ahead and use right now to add lots of words to your essay, while improving your essay’s quality without being wordy. Okay – let’s dive right in.
The name of the technique is:
That’s right – Zooming In. What do I mean by that? If you’ve sat down to write a paper and you have some material, but don’t know what else to write, then chances are that in your paper you haven’t exactly been going
from more general to more specific, which is a vitally important skill to have in order to eliminate all pain associated with writing a paper. And, although you don’t have to be a master of this skill in order to use the skill of Zooming In, you need to understand it on a basic level.
So, let’s take a look at the following statements that came from the same essay:
• “Holidays can be fun times.” • “Thanksgiving is a great holiday because of all the food and the chance to see some of the distant family you’ve missed.” • “Last Thanksgiving was very interesting because we had almost all of our family over.” • “It was so funny when my uncle Fred cut his finger while trying to slice the turkey.”
Let me ask you a question: as we went from the very first sentence to the last, what have we been doing? Answer: we’ve been Zooming In. What else have we been doing? Answer: we’ve been Going from More General to More Specific.
Look at the sentences again. Which is the most general statement? “Holidays can be fun times.”
Why is it the most general? Because no details whatsoever are given. All we know is that holidays can be fun times – a pretty simple statement anyone could make.
Now what about the next one: “Thanksgiving is a great holiday because of all the food and the chance to see some of the distant family you’ve missed.”
Now we’re getting into more detail; now it’s becoming a little more interesting because now we have some details – the exact holiday and what’s so great about it. As it turns out, it’s great because of a chance to eat some good food and to see some long-missed relatives. But it’s still a little too general to be interesting.
Do you see where I’m going with this? We’re Zooming In, bit by bit. Now you’re probably asking: “How in the world can understanding this help me add hundreds of words to my essay!” Well, stay focused and pay attention.
Let’s look at the next statement. Here we’re getting even more specific, because now we’re talking about not just holidays in general, and not even Thanksgivings in general, but we’re talking about a specific Thanksgiving
that happened in a certain year in a specific family – in the family of the author: “Last Thanksgiving was very interesting because we had almost all of our family over.”
Now we have really Zoomed In on something. But taking it a step further brings us to the meat and potatoes of any essay – the example: “It was so funny when my uncle Fred cut his finger while trying to slice the turkey.”
Now this one is the bull’s eye. We zoomed in pretty much as much as we could, and now we are inside a specific place in...