by Peggy Urry
There is a natural order to life all around us. If we throw a baseball up in the air, we know it will come down. If we get on a mattress at the top of the stairs...
It is the same with our writing. There is a natural order in language. J.R.R. Tolkien said, "My mother ... pointed out that one could not say 'a green great dragon,' but had to say 'a great green dragon.' I wondered why and still do."1
Wilbers says, "The answer has to do with the way your mind works. Without conscious effort and at extraordinary speed, your mind sorts and arranges concepts according to a natural order. For this reason, you should roll out your information according to natural patterns when you write." 2
Wilbers gives these tips:
- Begin with simple; end with complex
- Go from shortest phrase to longest
- Go from less memorable/vivid to more memorable/vivid
- End with the strongest word in the series
Here are a few sentences without natural order. How would you fix them?
Her behavior was outrageous, unethical, and inappropriate. (End with strongest word)
My primary responsibilities are to train staff, create a new database of specific economic reporting techniques, and manage the office. (Shortest phrase to longest)3
|Not just building toward climax, screaming toward climax.|
Write according to natural order. Look for patterns and flow. Build toward climax.
1 Mastering the Craft of Writing, Stephen Wilbers, pg 142
2 Mastering the Craft of Writing, Stephen Wilbers, pg 143
3 Mastering the Craft of Writing, Stephen Wilbers, pg 143