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ENG 102 - Drama Research Guide

3. Narrow Your Topic

Narrow SignOnce you've done some initial background reading on your play, it's time to narrow down what you want to write about.  Remember your assignment requirements and consider what you've read about the play thus far.

Ask yourself - what aspect of the play do I want to focus on? What interests me about the play? What do I want to write about?

As you start to narrow this down into a thesis, you'll want to continue to look for more sources for your paper. As you read, you might tweak or adjust your topic/thesis.

In order to help you find more related sources about your play / topic, you'll want to identify keywords to help you search.


As you think about what concepts you want to write about in your play, think about what particular words might be in a good article about that concept. 

For instance, an article about the setting of your play might contain the word 'setting' or it might refer to the actual time and place of the play -- say the place is the "South" and the time period is the "Great Depression."  Those might be good keywords for you to pair with the name of the play.  

Another example: If you are writing about the play Hamlet, and you're focused on madness, you may want to try these related keywords that may show up in a good source:

  • melancholy
  • sanity
  • crazy

Keywords work best by trial-and-error. Never just do only one search. Some keywords will work better than others, and some keywords may lead you to different articles than you found in your first search.

Search the literature databases with the name of your play and a keyword to try to relevant articles. And remember to ask a librarian if you want assistance with coming up with keywords or need help looking for sources.