Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ – INTRODUCTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS ARE NOT NECESSARY

by Grace

INTRODUCTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY, according to William Kerrigan’s method of Writing to the Point.  (This is my 15th post about my project to study and learn the entire Six-Step method of writing an expository essay, 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)


INTRODUCTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY!

Kerrigan takes the unconventional view that essays do not require introductory paragraphs and concluding paragraphs.

… If an introduction is necessary, then of course have one.  But do not have an introduction just for the sake of having an introduction, any more than you would flap your arms up and down three times before putting on your coat — it’s pointless….

Kerrigan’s reasoning about introductions and conclusions:

  • They often take up too much word space, far out of proportion to the body of an essay.
  • An introduction can be distracting, leading the reader to a topic that is not the subject of the essay.  It’s better to get right to the point than to beat around the bush at the beginning.
  • If introductions and conclusions are used, they should be as succinct as possible.

Obviously, this approach is very different from conventional teaching in American schools.  But it still makes sense to learn Kerrigan’s method, for it teaches the value of concise expression and the skills useful in getting to the point quickly.  Learning how to build effective introductory and concluding paragraphs can occur after learning how to organize and develop the body of a well-written essay.

In place of paragraphs, here is the Kerrigan way of starting and ending essays:

Instead of introductory paragraph:  Sentence X
Instead of concluding paragraph:  Short “rounding off” sentence

Short “rounding off” sentence

… can be an echo of Sentence X, or some short sentence in which you manage to drive the point of the them home.


THE ASSIGNMENT

Write short rounding off sentences for three of the essays you’ve already written.

Here are a couple of the sentences I wrote.

Rounding off sentence for the essay from this post:  Colorful foliage, crisp weather, and fun-filled activities all make autumn an exhilarating time of year.
Sentence X was:  Autumn is an exhilarating time of year.

Rounding off sentence for the essay from this post:  For all these reasons, a student must have a regular schedule of study.
Sentence X was:  A student must have a regular schedule of study.

WHAT I LEARNED

Less is more.  Unnecessary verbiage detracts from the point of the essay.  On the other hand, a catchy introductory paragraph should not be written until after the thesis statement (Sentence X) is written.

You can check out all previous parts to this series by clicking THIS LINK to my initial post.

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