Focus is Too Broad
Michel Muraski, Journalism and Technical Communication
The biggest conceptual shift in most students is having too broad of a statement and literally finding everything they ever knew about this topic and dumping it into a term paper. They need to consider what they write a pro-active document: a document that's going to be used by a specified audience for a specified reason about a specific area of that broader topic.
Kate Kiefer, English Department, Composition Director 1992 -1995
A broad focus looks easier for students, but it turns out that a narrow focus is generally easier. General articles and essays with a broad focus require lots of background information and a pretty clear sense of the readers' goals in reading the piece. Otherwise, writing with a broad focus tends to result in pretty boring prose. Most academic writing requires a narrow focus because it's easier to move from that into the specific supporting detail highly valued in the academic community.
A broad focus covers too much about a topic. It never discusses the fine details necessary to adequately present a topic and keep readers' interest. A good way to narrow a broad topic is to list the subcategories of the topic. For example, two subcategories of Civil War tragedies are:
- The breakdown of families as a result of divided loyalties.
- How the small details of battle strategies affected the outcome of the war.
When you list subcategories, be careful not to narrow your topic too much, otherwise you won't have enough to write about it.