Return to the Write Place Catalogue This handout was written by Heidi Everett and revised for LEO by Judith Kilborn for the Write Place, St.
There's no single method for developing and organizing a paragraph or essay by extended definition.
The 60 concepts listed here can be defined in various ways and from different points of view. If you work well with lists, write the word at the top of the paper and fill the rest of the page with all the things that the word makes you think of, feel, see, or even smell, without stopping.
Take, for example, writings such as William James' "Pragmatic Theory of Truth" or John Berger's "The Meaning of Home." Abstract concepts, including many of the broad terms in the list that follows, need to be "brought to earth" with an example to relate what they mean to your reader and to get your point or opinion across.
You could illustrate the concepts with anecdotes from your personal life or examples from the news or current events, or write an opinion piece.
In general, this is a word which affects moral norms of society.
The complexity of the concept you will define while writing definition essay will influence the length of the essay and quantity of interesting statements you will give. Do you have any personal “feelings” about this word? Ask somebody to tell you what worries them, what concept they want to understand. Love is not another seasoning to bottle and stick on the dust-lined shelves of the spice rack. Instead, love is a great counterpart to late, evening thunder storms on hot July nights. Love also can be confused with feelings of indigestion and gas. Love is not a strategic defense mechanism nor the best kept secret at the Pentagon. Love is a capitalistic sell-all for novels, Top-40 pop songs, summer movies, and greeting cards. Much like other words of similar letter make up, when expressed it can evoke laughter, pleasure, pain, anger, and virtually any wave of reaction.Time spent writing is time spent exploring and is never wasted, as sometimes it takes a bit of pursuit to discover the perfect idea.A definition essay is expository writing; it explains a word, idea or concept through personal commentary and reflection. Everyone agrees what a tree or a car is, but you seldom see agreement on the definition of "love" or "success" -- these abstract words are topics that definition essays attempt to clarify, through a series of simple steps.As you develop your angle, think about the concept's background, features, characteristics, and parts. If you run into a dead end the first time, go back to your list and pick another idea.It's possible that your first draft turns out to be prewriting and leads to a better idea that can be developed further and can possibly even incorporate the prewriting exercise.The last, where you break down the different ways the word is used or understood, is the preferable method.It should lead to your personal experiences of "success," all of which should explain the concept and help readers understand it as you do.It's OK to go off on tangents, as you might find a surprising connection that could make a powerful, insightful, or even humorous essay.Alternatively, brainstorm by writing the word in the middle of your paper and connect other related words to it and each other. Something in your list or word map will spark a writing idea or theme to use to illustrate the abstract concept, and then it's off to the races.