Good Writing is Well Organized

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Good Writing is Well Organized. In all good writing one can sense a controlling pattern, a kind of master plan that holds the parts together. One idea easily leads to another as the writer lays down a path, points reader in the direction he wants them to go and moves them along with frequent signals in the form of transitions The controlling pattern might be one of the organizational patterns described in Chapter 5 on drafting : definition, cause and effect, comparison, assertion and support, process, or narration. A thesis sentence in the first paragraph is also a strong organizational device that lets readers know what to expect and helps them anticipate the major point the writer is going to make.

Here is a tightly organized paragraph from the well – regarded and well – paid – writer David Halberstam. He begins with a strong, eye – catching assertion and then develops it with rich, specific detail:

There was nothing conventional about Margaret Sanger’s life. As a mother she was at best erratic and distant, when her son Grant was ten he wrote from boarding school, asking what to do about Thanksgiving, since all the other boys were going home. He should, She answered, come home to Greenwich Village and Daisy, the maid, would cook him a fine dinner, she had little time for such intrusions as children and holiday diners. She was an American Samurai and she had spent her life on a wartime footing. Her principal enemies were the Catholic Church and clergy, because in her struggle to inform women about birth control, they did much to prevent her from reaching the urban poor, who were often Catholic.

Here is a briefly paragraph by a historian of the civil war that is unified by comparison and contrast:

So Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E Lee were in complete contrast, representing two diametrically opposed elements in American life. Grant was the modern man emerging; beyond him, ready to come on stage, was the great age of steel and machinery of crowded cities and a restless, burgeoning vitality. Lee might have ridden down from the old age of chivalry, lance in hand, silken banner fluttering over his head. Each man was the perfect champion of his cause, drawing both his strengths and his weaknesses from the people he led.

Bruce Catton “Grant and Lee : A Study in contrast"

Whatever controlling pattern professional writers use, they keep their prose stitched together with frequent transitional terms, little signals like first, second, finally, then, and consequently. They use other signals that tell readers, when to expect a qualification, terms like however, never the less, in spite of, and so on. You’ll find more on these important devices in
Chapter 7 on holding your reader.

Other Pages in this Section :

  • It says something of consequence.

  • It’s clear.

  • It’s economical.

  • It’s grammatically acceptable.

  • It has no spelling errors.

  • Successful Writing Index

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