Commenting on Craft: Part Three

Parts one and two can be found here and here, respectively.

Now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty, the stuff that actually terrifies the writers of research projects. Usually I can come up with ideas pretty easily, but when faced with even the prospect of outlining or planning, I panic. That being said, the section was really helpful for me in terms of being able to wrap my mind around the onerous task of planning.

If, for example, you were asked to ‘compare and contrast Freud and Jung on the imagination and unconsciousness,’ you do not have to organize your report into two parts, the first on Freud, the second on Jung, a kind of organization that too often results in a pair of unrelated summaries. Try breaking the topics into their conceptual parts, such as elements of the unconscious and the imagination, their definitions, and so on; then order those parts in a way useful to your readers.

This was especially helpful for me because I too often use this flawed method of organization. As a matter of fact, until reading this quote, I was going to organize my paper into the two texts I’m analyzing rather than breaking the analyses down into their more meaningful elements. The fact that the authors use a specific topic also helps conceptualize how this method of organization can be employed effectively.

Now, just as you picked out key terms to run through your whole report, circle the ones that uniquely distinguish this section from all the others; they should be in the sentence that states the point of that section.

I’m notoriously bad at topic sentences. I’ve gotten better at writing theses found in an introductory paragraph, but the idea of other topic sentences still thoroughly terrifies me. This idea helps immensely, because if there are no terms that are unique to a specific section, it’ll be easy to tell what’s essential to the main argument and what’s only serving as fluff.

Readers may have to understand the outlines of your overall position before they can follow how you apply it to specific texts, events, situations, and so on.

This quote comes from the section of the reading dedicated to finding a suitable order for the information you’re trying to relay. For me, the “general analysis followed by specific applications” will work the most because of what the above passage states. I’m doing a genre study, and unless I define the genre first, no one is going to be able to follow my argument. I think it’s important, too, to give the reader a big picture as a guide so they can better understand how smaller pieces contribute to that big picture. I know that strategy helps me as a reader, at least, and because it’s important to think of your writing from a reader’s perspective, I think this will be all the more helpful when I sit down to write a first draft.



  1. Pingback: Commenting on Craft: Part Four | The Ugly Truth

  2. Pingback: Commenting on Craft: Part Five | The Ugly Truth

  3. Pingback: Commenting on Craft: Part Six | The Ugly Truth

  4. Pingback: Commenting on Craft: Part Seven | The Ugly Truth

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