Ordering Reasons within the Paragraph

Sometimes you will work with only a single reason, repeating or expanding it in various ways: this is what Una Stannard does in the preceding paragraph. Other topics involve several reasons, as in the passage by Professor Stewart. In that case you must arrange them in a significant order. If the causes are serial—that is, if A is caused by B, B by C, and C by D—the organization is predetermined:

But several reasons all contributing to the same consequence may be parallel, that is, having no causal connection within themselves and related only in all contributing to the same result. (Again, the passage by Professor Stewart is an example.) With parallel reasons you have more choice of arrangement. If they have an order in time, you will probably follow that. If they do not, you will probably have to rank the reasons in order of importance, usually, though not invariably, leading up to the most important:

I doubt if the English temperament is wholly favourable to the development of the essayist. In the first place, an Anglo-Saxon likes doing things better than thinking about them; and in his memories, he is apt to recall how a thing was done rather than why it was done. In the next place, we are naturally rather prudent and secretive; we say that a man must not wear his heart upon his sleeve, and that is just what the essayist must do. We have a horror of giving ourselves away, and we like to keep ourselves to ourselves. "The Englishman's home is his castle," says another proverb. But the essayist must not have a castle, or if he does, both the grounds and the living-rooms must be open to the inspection of the public. A. C. Benson

Reversing the order of Benson's two reasons would not impair the logic of his paragraph. However, it would disrupt the climactic structure. While Benson nowhere says that he considers the second reason more important, he gives it more than twice the space and repeats it three times.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment