Monday, November 14, 2011

Heavyweight Boxing

You've probably done an outline at some point in your life. You probably did it before you wrote your paper. And hey, that's swell. But did you ever consider doing an outline after the paper?

"No," you say, shaking your head emphatically. "The paper was done. Why outline the finished product?"

"Ah-HA!" I holler. "Is it really done?"

Keep staring at me with that ridiculous look on your face. I'll explain myself. In truth, your paper isn't done until you get the grade, and even then I don't think it's 100% done. But indeed, why do an outline after the paper's been drafted? Believe it or not, an outline might help to better organize your thoughts. Take, for instance, a box outline. Even if you haven't done a box outline, you've probably done something similar. The box outline is merely an aesthetic method that makes your outline look a little neater than simply letters or numbers or even using bubbles. Applying a box outline to a "finished" product is simple: you simply create a series of boxes for each paragraph. In each box, you then describe what you basically are trying to do in said paragraph. If you find it easy to do, congratulations! Your paragraph is likely cohesive. If you find difficulty in it, so sorry--try again! If you find your paragraph description is getting overly complicated, it could be a matter of just breaking it apart into smaller, bite-size chunks of paragraph that'll be easier for your readers to get down. By applying this box outline method post-draft, you can double-check yourself to make sure you're not creating some unwieldy paragraph that looks both unattractive and uninviting to readers. As writers, we want to make our writing as accessible to readers as possible, unless, of course, we want to be unlikable pretentious jerks. As they write, some people have the tendency to go into a huge paragraph without breaking it up, bogging down their readers with no breaks of white space...

...oh dear.

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