Friday, April 16, 2010

Organizing Ideas

Organizing Ideas
By Musa Sinnan

In this week issue we will look further into organizing interesting ideas, constructing sentences and arranging them in paragraphs. Getting organized is a vital part in the writing process of an interesting essay, especially in section B (Paper 1) – Continuous Writing.

Paragraphs are organized differently in different kinds of writing. It is important that you have to read and understand the main idea or the key words of the given topic. After you have made a plan on your essay, you need to organize interesting ideas. This can be done when you construct the sentences using simple, compound or complex sentences and arrange them in appropriate paragraphs.

In a well-written paragraph, each sentence has words or phrases that link it to the previous sentence. These connecting words may be pronouns that refer back to a noun or pronoun in the previous sentence. Example : he, she, it, we, they, him, her, us, them, this, etc.

Extract 1.

A year ago, after being retrenched from his computer company, John felt dejected. He was worried about how he was going to fulfill the needs of his family. This situation worsened when he failed to secure a job after months of intensive searching. Soon, he began to indulge in alcoholic drinks to drown his sorrow.

In most cases, the connecting words may also be logical connectors, such as however, moreover, in addition, nevertheless, meanwhile, although, besides, or any other common transitional signals that we have discussed in the previous issue.

Extract 2.

The public phones in our school were vandalized last week. Moreover, some of our drawings and artwork which were on display were also destroyed. Besides that, a few chairs were also broken. However, there were no broken window panes.

The connecting words may also be sequence connectors such as firstly, next, then, finally, etc.

Extract 3.

Firstly cut the apple into small pieces. Next, put them into the blender. Then, add some water and blend them. Finally, pour the apple juice into a glass and enjoy the drink.

Creating ideas
When a topic is given either for the class writing practice or answering a question in the examination, you need to organize your ideas. You should be able to list the introduction, main idea, topic sentences, supporting details and appropriate conclusion.

Anyway, for a narrative essay, you may also organize your ideas in such a way where the main idea is stated at the beginning, or even at the end of the essay. Can you continue to make a story from the question below?

Sample question on narrative essay :

Write a story beginning with ‘When I opened the door ……………………………….’

Sample answer

When I opened the door, I saw a ghost. I was so scared. I tried to close the door but I didn’t have the power to do it. My knees grew weaker. The ghost was coming nearer towards me. It looked so scary with its red eyes. Then, I started to scream and I fainted.

Comment :

When we study the topic ‘when I opened the door’, it seems that the idea on what is going to happen in the story would be something scary, creepy or even horrible like killing, bullying or other incidents leading to death as you can observe from the sample answer above.

In the sample above, the student started the essay by stating the idea of seeing a ghost. It is too early to expose to the readers that the story is going to be a ghost story. If possible try not to expose too fast. Drag the readers to read on in order to get the main idea on what the student had encountered when the door was opened.

For example,

‘When I opened the door, I saw nothing. There was no one and everything remained as it was. Then, I closed the door. I walked back to my room………………………….’

Anyway, the second sentence, ‘I was so scared’, is a good effort on expressing feelings at that particular time. You should be able to express your feeling effectively so as the readers could also feel what you really felt and try to visualize the situation.

The student is able to describe the physical movement creatively as shown in the following sentences. ‘I tried to close the door but I didn’t have the power to do it. My knees grew weaker.’ It shows that the character, I, was really helpless and indulge in a great shock. The organization of the ideas makes the beginning of the essay more interesting. The critical situation is enhanced well by the approaching of the ghost and the observation of the eyes.

The last sentence shows a continuous effect on the writer. Then, I started to scream and I fainted.

Unfortunately, the idea that the writer fainted, is an abrupt stop for the writer to end the first paragraph. It may derive to an anti-climax because the student has to work out setting a new situation in the following paragraph, for a new take-off of the story.

Example: (second paragraph)

……..and I fainted.
When I opened my eyes I found myself lying on the bed in my room. Weak and dizzy. I started to recall what had happened to me………………

My suggestion :
- create further actions that should have been done by the writer to give wider and more straining description about the incidents, to the readers, even in the first or second paragraph.
- create more and clearer descriptions of the ghost to make it more scary and able to make you

Consider this question :

Write a story beginning with ‘As I walked along the corridors of the hospital…………….’

Well, do you have any ideas to continue the story? Can you complete the first paragraph as the introduction to describe any incident that would have happen? This type of question is rather popular for the narrative essay and you can roam at any possible description that leads to an interesting or memorable incident. However, you still need to organize your ideas to avoid repetition or inappropriate link.

Look at the example given.

As I walked along the corridors of the hospital, I looked nervously around the ward.
The smell of antiseptic was slightly choking me. I had never liked hospitals, perhaps because I did not feel comfortable looking at so many ill people. My friends and I volunteered to cheer up children at the ward, ravaged with dangerous diseases.

Suggested ideas to continue the story.
- I met a little boy
- He was willing to learn English
- He dreamt to attain success
- I learnt to appreciate life from him
- He was getting weaker
- He suffered backbone cancer
- He passed away
- grief, memories

Finally, try to give a vivid and interesting description to bring the characters to life. For example, the listed ideas mentioned above enhance the description and ideas on the life of a boy in the hospital. Human relationship finally ended with the reality of death. The ideas seem to merge descriptive writing with narrative writing. Not to worry, description enriches narration! Good try. Remember, practice makes perfect.

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