State, Elaborate, Restate

state-elaborate-restateWhen we write, we have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to organize our thoughts in a coherent way. The connections that are obvious to us may not be clear to others, so a methodical approach is much more effective than a stream of consciousness. Unless your text is very short, tell your readers what you intend to write, deliver what you promised, and then remind your readers what you wrote. A structure of this kind not only keeps your audience well oriented, but it also forces you to distill the essence of your topic twice, creates a mutually reinforcing set of “bookends” for your text, and preserves consistency throughout.



Although all three components of your text should be crafted with care, bear in mind that your opening and closing sentences are likely to have the greatest impact on your readers. Do not let this “prime real estate” go to waste.

While your statement and restatement should be in harmony, they play distinct roles. Use your statement to draw your readers into your text, much like a fishing lure. Use your restatement to crystallize the point you wish to make, ensuring that your readers are well and truly hooked.

If your text is long, a numerical approach may help to keep you to the straight and narrow, as in “There are three reasons why this project should proceed” or “My academic interests fall into three broad areas.”

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