Ever read a piece of writing and simply not understand the message? Knowing the structure of the writing will often help you understand it. Watch this video lesson to learn about structure of writing.
Organization of Writing
All writing has a structure. This can be thought of as a specific format or how the writing is organized. It is important to understand this structure in order to fully comprehend the material written. If you know the organization of the piece of writing, you will better understand the author's message.
There are many types of organization an author can follow in his writing. Some of those include chronological order, order of importance, compare and contrast, and cause and effect. Let's take a closer look at those types of organizational patterns.
Perhaps the easiest pattern to identify is chronological order. For this organizational pattern, the writing follows the order of time. This means that the plot sticks to a specific timeline. The best example of writing in chronological order can be seen in any novel or short story. For the most part, all fiction is written in chronological order. These stories have a specific beginning, middle, and end. For example, think of the story of 'Cinderella.' It starts when she is a child, then follows what happens to her father and how she grows up with her stepmother. There is a sequence of events that is fairly easy to follow since it stays in order of time.
Besides fiction, there are some examples of nonfiction, or writing based on real life, that is also written in chronological order. For example, a biography is the story of a person's life. This is written in chronological order because a biography almost always begins with that person's birth, then describes their childhood, young adulthood, and on and on as they age. This is a perfect example of chronological order. Any writing that strives to show a sequence of events in order of time is following chronological order.
Order of Importance
A second type of organizational pattern is order of importance, which is exactly how it sounds. The importance of the ideas determines the order each occurs in the writing. The most important idea is described in the writing first, followed by the second most important, then the third, and so on and so forth.
This type of pattern is often seen in essays, which focus on a single topic with supporting details. The writer of an essay should analyze his supporting ideas. Whichever idea is the strongest should be the first one explained in the essay. For example, imagine you are writing an essay on the importance of recycling. You have found much information on the benefits of recycling, but which idea has the most support? Perhaps you found the best reason to recycle is that it saves trees, which helps the environment. This, then, should be the first idea you explain in your essay. Using this organizational pattern helps to strengthen any piece of writing centered on supporting arguments.
Compare and Contrast
A third type of organizational pattern is compare and contrast. In terms of writing, compare means to describe the similarities between two objects or ideas. Contrast, on the other hand, means to describe the differences. With this in mind, there is a simple way to identify this pattern. For example, imagine you are reading a magazine article on a matchup between two football teams. Does the author explain how the teams are alike and how they are different? If so, then the organizational pattern is compare and contrast.
This pattern is often used in works of nonfiction that focus on two ideas within the same subject. You might see writing that compares and contrasts in newspaper articles, and magazine articles, or even speeches. If similarities and differences is the central theme, the author is comparing and contrasting. Any piece of writing evaluating something would benefit from using a compare and contrast organizational pattern.
Cause and Effect
A final organizational pattern is cause and effect. This is usually a more difficult pattern to identify. This is due to the fact that causes and effects can be seen in any type of writing, but that does not necessarily mean that is the organizational pattern for that piece of writing. In writing, a cause is defined as any event that affects a situation. An effect is what happens due to that event. Thus, the cause is the occurrence; the effect is the result.
Causes and effects happen in all stories. For example, because Cinderella's father died, her stepmother raises her. Her father's death is the cause; Cinderella being raised by her stepmother is the result. Another example can be seen in that same story: because Cinderella lost her shoe, the prince was able to find her. Cinderella losing her shoe is the cause that leads to the effect of the prince finding her. These are two examples of causes and effects in that story, but does that mean the story is written in a cause and effect pattern? Of course not, it is a story that follows chronological order, or order of time. The causes and effects are just a part of the story, not the organizational pattern.
In order for a piece of writing to have an organizational pattern of cause and effect, the whole piece must describe a number of causes and the effects of each. A story usually never follows this pattern. You often see this pattern in nonfiction articles. For example, imagine you are reading the newspaper and you come across an article on the turmoil occurring in the Middle East. The article describes a variety of reasons and events that led to the many wars and instances of violence that have broken out over the years. This article is written in cause and effect. The causes are the reasons war has broken out, and the effects are each instance of violence. If an author is attempting to explain the reasons behind some outcome, he should choose an organizational pattern of cause and effect.
Overall, there are many forms of organizational patterns in writing. Some examples include chronological order, order of importance, compare and contrast, and cause and effect.
Chronological order follows a specific timeline of events and is often seen in stories with a clear beginning, middle and end. Order of importance is often seen in nonfiction essays that focus on one topic but describe the strongest argument first and the weakest last. Compare and contrast is also seen in works of nonfiction, but these pieces of writing focus on explaining the similarities and the differences between two objects or ideas. Finally, a piece of writing is organized by cause and effect if an event is related to the result that followed.
Overall, organizational patterns, or structure, of writing is very important in literature. Structure can help you understand the material and identify the author's message.
- Understand the importance of structure in writing
- Identify a chronological pattern in writing
- Discuss the order of importance pattern and what forms of writing it benefits
- Recognize compare and contrast and how to use it
- Recall examples of cause and effect in writing