Developing an essay sparked by a book:

Note:  All of these ideas are based on the approach of writing to explore what you think.  If you’ve been taught that before you write you should have a thesis and an outline, you have been taught a method that assumes you have something to say on the given topic.  If I decide to write a letter to the editor, for instance, because I feel very strongly about an issue, I have a thesis—a position statement—on the issue before I start writing, and I can sit down to outline what I’ll say to support my position—my reasons for my position, which I hope will convince readers of my letter to agree with me. 

 

In school, however, you are often asked to write before you have come to a fully reasoned position on your topic.  The starting points I’ve enumerated above are meant for that situation, when you are required to write, required to think about something you’ve read, but don’t yet have something to say.