501 Topic Suggestions for Writing Essays and Speeches

Different writing topics typed on pieces of paper

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If getting started is the hardest part of the writing process, close behind it (and closely related to it) may be the challenge of finding a ​good topic to write about. Of course, sometimes an instructor will solve that problem for you by assigning a topic. But other times you'll have the opportunity to choose a topic yourself, and you should really think of this as a great opportunity to write about something you care about and know well.

So relax. Don't worry if a great topic doesn't immediately spring to mind. Be ready to play with a number of ideas until you settle on one that truly interests you. To help get you thinking, we've prepared more than 500 writing suggestions—but they are only suggestions. Together with some freewriting and brainstorming (and maybe a good long walk), these should inspire you to come up with plenty of fresh ideas of your own.

501 Topics You Could Write About

We've organized the suggested topics into nine broad categories, loosely based on some of the most common types of essays. But don't feel limited by these categories. You'll find that many of the topics can be adapted to suit almost any kind of writing assignment.

Now follow the links to find more than 500 topic suggestions and see where they take you.

  1. Describing People, Places, and Things: 40 Writing TopicsDescriptive writing calls for close attention to details—details of sight and sound, smell, touch, and taste. Read these 40 topic suggestions for descriptive paragraphs or essays to get started. It shouldn't take you long to discover at least 40 more on your own.
  2. Narrating Events: 50 Writing TopicsAnother word for "narration" is "storytelling," and narrative essays give accounts of events that actually happened. Narratives can serve to illustrate an idea, report an experience, explain a problem, or simply entertain and they are the perfect opportunity to practice countless writing techniques. Here are 50 ideas for a narrative paragraph or essay. Remember to tell a story of your own.
  3. Explaining a Process Step by Step: 50 Writing TopicsProcess analysis essays explain how something is done or should be done, one step at a time. You don't have to be an expert on a topic to write a process analysis essay for it, but you should have at least some familiarity beforehand. These 50 topics will help you start thinking about potential processes you might be equipped to explain.
  4. Comparing and Contrasting: 101 Writing TopicsAnything that you've ever had to make a decision about could form the basis of a compare and contrast essay. Here you'll find 101 more ideas that might be explored in a piece of writing meant to find similarities and differences between two things.
  5. Drawing Analogies: 30 Writing TopicsA good analogy can help your readers understand the ways in which two or more vastly dissimilar subjects or concepts are alike. You can think of an analogy like a compare and contrast essay without the contrast (often, two things compared via analogy are naturally contrasted in obvious ways). Consider each of these 30 topics from multiple different perspectives to uncover original analogies of your own.
  6. Classifying and Dividing: 50 Writing TopicsAre you ready to get organized? If so, you'll probably be applying the principle of classification—perhaps to one of these 50 topics or to a brand new topic of your own.
  7. Examining Causes and Effects: 50 Writing TopicsCause and effect composition is an important skill for writers to master if they are to be effective at illustrating important connections. These 50 topic suggestions should get you started thinking about why? and so what?
  8. Developing Extended Definitions: 60 Writing TopicsAbstract and/or controversial ideas can often be clarified through extended definitions. The 60 concepts listed here can be defined in various ways and from different points of view, a craft that all writers should hone.
  9. Arguing and Persuading: 70 Writing Topics: These 70 statements may be defended or attacked in an argument essay, also called a persuasive essay. Students are taught to write persuasively as early as second grade, but the ability to craft a well-supported argument takes years to master. Consider what issues really matter to you when deciding on a persuasive essay or speech topic.