William J Kerrigan on Step 6

from Writing to the Point:

STEP 6. Make sure every sentence in your theme is connected with, and makes a clear reference to, the preceding sentence.

[Step 6] stuns some people. It seems to claim to be a truth—a big truth—about all writing; yet since they have never heard it before, how can it be true?

In fact, I had teaching with me once, as a practice teacher, an intelligent young woman who was doing graduate work in English at one of our state universities. She had previously been a technical editor in the aerospace industry. She enjoyed her work teaching Steps 1 through 5 and did it excellently, I am happy to say. I suspect Step 5 may have been something of an eye-opener for her; but when I proposed Step 6 to her, she looked at me as if I were out of my mind. “Why, that’s simply not so,” she said.

“Well,” I said, “don’t take my word for it. But go to any printed essay or article that you think is well written, and see whether every sentence in it doesn’t connect with, and make clear reference to, the preceding sentence.”

She went away shaking her head, her eyes clouded with doubt. But a couple of days later she returned, after having done some conscientious and extensive investigation, and said simply, “Now I see why I haven’t been getting A’s on my papers at the university.”

William J. Kerrigan on Step 6:
..7 ways to connect sentences

X-1-2-3: all posts
Anaphora: all posts
Cohesion and coherence: all posts

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