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Generating Ideas for an Essay by Asking Questions 1. You can generate ideas for an essay by using the journalist’s five w’s and an h.   Who did/does . . . ? What is the definition of . . . ? What does . . . mean? What is an example of . . . ? What are the types of . . . ? What are the steps in process X? What causes . . . to occur? What are the reasons that/for . . . ? What are the results/effects of . . . ? What conclusions can be drawn from . . . ? What is the relationship between . . . and . . . ? What are the problems/conflicts/issues? What are possible solutions/resolutions to these problems/conflicts/issues? Where did/does . . . occur? When did/does . . . occur? Why did/does . . . occur ? How much/many of . . . ? How did/does . . . occur? How does . . . function? How does . . . affect . . . ? How is . . . similar to/different from . . . ?

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2. You can also ask questions according to the different methods of developing essays. You’ll see that many of the above questions are repeated below; they have just been categorized in a different way. You’ll also see that some of the questions below express the same idea in different words ; use whichever wording you prefer. Expository essay:   definition (explain the meaning of a term or concept) What is the definition of . . . ? What does . . . mean? classification and division (divide material into types that fit under a general category) What are the types of . . . ?

. . . function? comparison (show the similarities and/or differences between 2 or more things) How is X similar to Y? How is X different from Y?    Persuasive essay: You can strengthen your argument in a persuasive paper by acknowledging and refuting an opposing point of view. . . you can incorporate expository techniques to support your opinion. . causes and/or effects (explain either separate causes/effects or a chain of causes and effects) Causes Why did/does . ? Effects How does X affect Y? What are the results/effects of . . For example. or practical grounds What are the strengths of . . . to occur? What are the reasons that/for .  reasons and examples (used to support one opinion and argue against another) General questions: What is the major issue? Are there subcategories of this issue? Why should a reader accept opinion X? Why should a reader accept opinion Y? Why should a reader oppose opinion X? Why should a reader oppose opinion Y? More specific questions: What examples support opinion X? What examples support opinion Y? What examples oppose opinion X? What examples oppose opinion Y? What reasons support opinion X? What reasons support opinion Y? What reasons oppose opinion X? What reasons oppose opinion Y? evaluation of strengths and weaknesses on aesthetic. . ? How can I prove this?  In a persuasive paper. . . logical. ? How can I prove this? What are the weaknesses of . . . ? process analysis (explain how to do something) How does a person complete process X? What are the steps in process X? systems analysis (explain how physical objects such as computers or abstract systems such as administrative structures work) How does . . you could support an action because it will have beneficial effects/results. so the following questions prompt you to consider at least two perspectives on an issue. occur? What causes . ? What are the consequences of . . . moral.