After the orientation phase (Orientation on your topic) you will have a clearer picture of the scope of your topic, for example:
To define your subject as clearly as possible (and to write a good essay) you need a clear research question and a clear approach or angle. This will enable you to make a selection from all the literature available on a subject. Formulating a good research question requires a great deal of thought and time. Still, it is absolutely rewarding to take your time for this part of the research process since your research question is the foundation for your research. In addition, a clear research question will also save time, becauses it enables you to tackle your research in a focused manner.
Generally, academic research results in an academic text, i.e. an article or a paper. A good text has a clear angle; the perspective from which the topic is approached. This angle helps the author to select material and to write a coherent text.
For more information on formulating a research question and deciding on an approach, go to the Academic Communication Skills portal of the University of Groningen Language Centre.
This example shows how you can make a subject more specific.
In most cases, it will not be possible to find literature that gives a precise answer to your research question. You will have to use the literature you find to make connections and arrive at the answers yourself, backing them up with arguments.