WHILE REPETITION CAN BE IMPORTANT FOR ENHANCING THE CLARITY OF AN ESSAY, IT MUST BE BALANCED AGAINST THE POSSIBILITY OF PRODUCING A MONOTONOUS PIECE OF WRITING. A discussion of this topic is included before moving past Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of Writing to the Point. (This is my 13th post about my project to study and learn the entire Six-Step method, first explained here.) For a recap, here are Steps 1 through 4.
STEP 1. Write a short, simple declarative sentence that makes one statement. (Chapter 1, page 6)
STEP 2. Write three sentences about the sentence in Step 1—clearly and directly about the whole of that sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 2, page 18.)
STEP 3. Write four or five sentences about each of the three sentences in Step 2—clearly and directly about the whole of the Step 2 sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 3, page 31.)
STEP 4. Make the material in the four or five sentences of Step 3 as specific and concrete as possible. Go into detail. Use examples. Don’t ask, “What will I say next?” Instead, say some more about what you have just said. Your goal is to say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot. (Chapter 4, page 43)
REPETITION IS DESIRABLE.
An objection to keeping the same grammatical subject, a topic covered in my previous post, is that it would be too monotonous. Some writers like to mix things up, changing the perspective and tone of an essay to keep the reader engaged. That may work in some types of creative writing, but not for the expository writing addressed by Kerrigan’s WTTP method.
Repetition is desirable.* It helps keep the writer on track and adds clarity for the reader. But Kerrigan suggests ways to minimize the monotony.
- Use pronouns. Instead of “George Washington” in every sentence, use “he”.
- Use synonyms, but don’t overuse them. Instead of “George Washington”, use “our first president”.
- Change sentence length and form. Two guidelines for developing writers are recommended:
- Make every third sentence or so notably longer than the others. One way to do this is by sentence combining.
- Be sure every third sentence or so begins with something other than the subject.
A good resource for teaching sentence composing is the series of books by Don and Jenny Killgallon, which works well for afterschooling or homeschooling.
Write an essay on any subject.
- Try to keep the same grammatical subject throughout.
- Make one out of every three or four sentences notably longer than the others.
- Make one out of every three or four sentences begin with something other than the subject. “Hoping it would rain . . .,” ”To prevent inflation . . .,” ”Sometimes . . .,” ”In the prison . . .,” ”Though the treaty was disregarded . . .,”
Even if the essay turns out a little stiff and clumsy, it’s still excellent practice.
Here is the essay I wrote for this assignment.
X The end of the school year is hectic.
1. The end of the school year is a time of final exams.
2. The end of the school year is a time of special events.
3. The end of the school year is a time to prepare for the summer.
X The end of the school year is hectic for many high school students.
1. The end of the school year is a time of heavy academic responsibilities. Final exams often count for a large part of the final grade, so most students must spend considerable time studying for them. End of year class projects are similarly time-consuming. Sometimes make-up work, like lab reports, must be completed before the last day of class. All this must be done with an eye to planning the class schedule for next fall.
2. The end of the school year is a time of many special events. For seniors, all the graduation festivities take up time in preparing and in celebrating. The prom requires numerous shopping excursions for the right attire along with planning for transportation and related details. A weekend of activities with friends often comes after the prom When you add in all the other graduations, confirmations, spring concerts, dance recitals, end of season sports events, and myriad other events common this time of year, it becomes clear what a hectic time it can be.
3. The end of the school year is a time to prepare for the summer. While some students will be spending the summer enjoying long, lazy days by the pool, most will be busy with various activities that need planning and preparation. A summer job often requires filling out many forms and interviewing with potential employers. Getting ready for travel, either with family or to summer camp, usually requires more work than a quick packing of a suitcase. A flurry of commotion is common as a teen begins a summer of volunteering, babysitting, summer courses, team sports, or other activities that will last until the beginning of the next school year.
WHAT I LEARNED
Focusing on these few simple techniques can help developing writers add cohesion and clarity to an essay while also avoiding a monotonous tone. As with the other WTTP lessons, practicing these techniques will help establish them as part of a student’s routine writing style.
You can check out all previous parts to this series by clicking THIS LINK to my initial post.
* Do you see what I did there?