An issue tree (Fig. 1.3) appears similar to an outline, and it looks more like the roots of a tree than its branches. These quibbles aside, an issue tree (Flower,
2000) can help check the balance of your treatment of a subject. Because it is more flexible than a formal outline, an issue tree is easy to rework during the organizing process and for a visually oriented person, it can seem less intimidating than other choices.
To develop an issue tree, write the main point at the top of a page. List subpoints under this main point. They may be phrased in any way that is comfortable, from single words to sentences or fragments. Then list sub-points below these, in decreasing order of importance. Connect all of these various levels with branching lines in a cascading manner.
As you explore topics, you may find that one branch begins to grow and spread across the page, almost excluding the others. Perhaps this material is an unnecessary digression. If so, this can be corrected at this early stage, before you have invested hours in drafting a narrative. Alternatively, the other branches may need more detail. Ask yourself questions about the subject of each branch: "How do I know this? Why is it important? Does it contribute to the whole picture? What evidence do I have for this?" Be as complete as you can.
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