A coherence test for papers

How to test your paper for coherence (Catherine’s summary):

  1. Write your rough draft.
  2. Pull out your thesis statement and write it on a separate piece of paper (or screen).
  3. Pull out ALL of the topic sentences in ALL of your paragraphs, and list them below your thesis statement.
  4. PARAGRAPH-LEVEL COHERENCE: Read each topic sentence, and make sure it is a strong introduction to the subject of the paragraph it appears in.
  5. PAPER-LEVEL COHERENCE: If asked, could you write a single coherent paragraph using your thesis statement and all of your topic sentences (rewording as necessary, of course)?

How to test your paper for coherence (“Legal Writing Tips” summary):

[Terri] LeClercq offers a very helpful technique to check for coherence in a multi-paragraph text: As you edit your rough draft, separate each topic sentence from your text and examine each one to make sure it is a strong introduction to the main idea of that paragraph. Then examine the coherence of the topic sentences as they relate to the overall thesis set-up by seeing whether the topic sentences form a coherent paragraph.
Writing Good Paragraphs with Topic Sentences.” Legal Writing Tips 1.8 (2005). Web.

fyi: I’m looking at my copy of LeClercq’s Guide to Legal Writing Style, and I don’t see mention of this test. Strange. Perhaps I’ve missed it.

In any event, I like this approach, and I think it works well with William Kerrigan’s X-1-2-3 method.

Could you write a coherent paragraph using Kerrigan’s Power corrupts sentence stack? (Yes!)

X Power corrupts.
1 Power corrupts the weak.
2 Power corrupts the strong.
3 Power corrupts every relation between the two.

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