Writing Mini-Lessons: Narrowing the Topic

The inverted triangle is a prewriting technique to help a writer find a very specific writing topic that is not too broad.  Here’s how it works:

When you are trying to find a topic to write about, sometimes it is easier to start with a big idea and work to make it smaller and smaller until suddenly, there it is – the “inside story,” the one only YOU know and can write.  It’s like starting with a slab of marble or a block of wood and chipping away until your sculpture is revealed to your audience.  Starting with a writing territory, you can find your specific topic by using an inverted triangle.

Look at your list of writing territories, and think about the seeds of ideas you might be able to use to grow stories around a specific topic that holds a special meaning for you.  Add to your writing territories if a new memory emerges.

Then draw an inverted triangle, which can be a useful graphic organizer to help you refocus your camera lens from wide angle and zoom in on a specific subject.  Choose one of your writing territories and narrow it so that the territory captures the heart of the memory.  Make sure that you have not stopped at the “general” topic, but have moved to a specific statement to flesh out the “inside” story.  The statement should help you focus on both topic and point (the point is why the author wrote the piece or what is most important or memorable about this topic).

Here are some examples: