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Awesome Essay Strategies 1 – Cohesion

Pull up chair, my dear reader, and have a seat by the roaring fire. Relax and take a breather while I pour us some spiced hot cider. The familiar scent of intoxicating pine in the air, the fire crackles delightfully to your ears. Do not worry that these things exist only in your head but take rest. Right now, at this particular moment, it's just you and I. Let yourself enjoy the moment while I speak with you in a calm and measured tone. You don't have to do anything but listen to my monologue drone.

Cohesion Overview

If you would like your essay or other article to be readable, possibly the most important thing to keep in mind, my dear friend, is this concept which we will call cohesion. If your intent is to write an essay, this is, I assure you, quite the desirable thing for your work to have. What is this cohesion you ask? A good way to start of is by illustrating what cohesion is not. Fear not, we shall also discuss what it is.

Cohesion is not a bunch of garbage thrown all over a page like yesterday's dinner leftovers all mixed together and piled haphazardly onto a plate. Cohesion is not jumping from one idea to another whilst not giving each its time and effort due. Cohesion is not a bunch of incomplete sentences glued together with nothing more than your unexpressed imagination locking them into place. Cohesion is not, in other words, a distasteful chaotic mess.

To better understand what cohesion is, in the context of essay creation, is to understand what the word means in what we presently call physical reality. In physics a substance which holds itself together better than it adheres, or sticks to, other substances is said to have greater cohesion than adhesion. Modeling clay doesn't adhere to wet fingers well but it coheres, or sticks together, just fine. In contrast, honey tends to have quite a bit of adhesion which is to say that it is quite sticky to the touch but doesn't hold together well so it isn't as cohesive as it is adhesive. So your essay, if it is to be readable, must consist of parts that somehow all fit together to form a whole substance. If it adheres to the mind: all the better. We will discuss how to make your essay more memorable in a future essay to be entitled, “Awesome Essay Strategies 4 – Enhancements.”

To learn more about this thing which we call cohesion, don't be afraid to study the five paragraph essay. A stubborn and unforgiving mule, though it is, the mental habits you will learn will make you a wondrous warrior of words. Training your mind to think in terms of composition can, you may find, prove quite liberating. Once the light of reason has brightened your eyes you shall illuminate us all with your glorious might. Let's take a look at three basic guidelines which you might find will help you maintain a sense of cohesion, shall we?

Structure

For your essay to have cohesion, it should have some sort of structure or embedded map of sorts. This can be likened to the bones in your body without which you would be nothing more than a gelatinous glob of chemical goo writhing on the floor. If your paper doesn't have a structure it may not even know what it is and be reduced to an incoherent rambling mass smeared all over the page.

There are many ways to structure your work. Typically you would start of with an overview to give your reader an idea what they're getting themselves into by reading through the rest of your piece. You would then expand on your initial claims, keeping in mind expected objections to your argument. Once your basic premise has been sufficiently covered, it is generally concluded by wrapping it up with a summary of what has been said.

At times, you may find you can get away with throwing in a juicy bit of distracting fruit here and there along the path you have laid out but if you distract your reader too much, my dear reader, they shall get lost amongst the brambles and never find their way home. They shall wander around blindly in the night forever alone. We don't want that do we, my friend? This brings us to our next consideration: flow.

Flow

Having a road map is all fine and well but if there is no road, even with a map, you will tend to get lost in a forest of confusion and so will your audience. Flow means roughing out the edges of your work so your reader may proceed without impediment. You can file down the sharp corners of your work by using transitional sentences or even entire paragraphs, sticking with some kind of order established with your predetermined structure, usually chronological, and then finally avoiding letting ideas trail off without completion.

Exacting and stuffy explanations tire me, my friend, but as I recall transitional sentences are simply a way of saying, “hey look! We are going to talk about this next.” They can be quite clever or you can do exactly just that. You can say, “so now that we've covered that we are going to discuss this.” Be forewarned, however, that your English teacher wont like the writing style I just used for that example but we will get to that point in another essay to be entitled, “Awesome Essay Strategies 2 – Writing Styles.” Getting back to the matter at hand, we will discuss order next, as promised.

The order you discuss your main points will usually be in the same order they were laid out in your initial paragraph. In this way your flow will be dependent on sticking to the structure you have laid out earlier. To get a better idea how this works lets think about the article you are reading right now as an essay with little essays within the essay. This subsection began with a paragraph which concluded with a series of points to be covered. The first point mentioned had to do with transitions which was covered in the very next paragraph. The second point mentioned had to do with following an order established with your chosen structure which is what we are covering now. The third point was about not letting ideas trail off so we will talk about that next.

Now, of course, it is important to understand that one does not necessarily have to restrict oneself to one paragraph per claim but I'm violating the order I laid out by going off on a tangent right now. I am going to commit another violation by letting that newly introduced idea hang in the air without expanding on it further. Nasty, isn't it? Generally, it may not be a good idea to let things go too far astray or to leave too many loose ends. You will get dizzy and fall down, figuratively speaking, so then will your audience. We had better broach the subject of loose ends.

Loose Ends

There is probably some fancy scholarly term for loose ends. I don't know exactly what that is, dear reader, but you are welcome to research this so you can feel intelligent. In the context of this article, the term “loose ends” is actually an analogy. If there is a thread sticking out of your sweater which, if you pull it, will cause the whole sleeve to fall off is what one could refer to as a literal loose end. The sidetrack about paragraphs mentioned previously was not only out of place; it wasn't fully covered nor properly integrated into the essay you are reading right. This is what one might think of as a literary loose end.

So what to do with these pesky loose ends? It is recommended that when we write anything that we start by doing a rough draft where spelling, punctuation, grammar, et cetera, are not over emphasized. The reason for this is to encourage the creative thinking process but you may end up with many loose ends. This concept may be expanded on in a future article. Once a rough draft is complete, we will go through a revision process. Once we are ready to revise our work the loose ends should be dealt with usually in one of two ways.

The first way to deal with loose ends is to cut them off like the thread sticking out of your sweater. It could be decided that the detail is not necessary so distracts from the main ideas being explored. We could choose to cover the out-of-place information in a whole different essay in which it may be more relevant.

Another way loose ends can be dealt with is to alter the essay as a whole to allow the integration of the information seamlessly. Oftentimes in the middle of the composition process I realize that there is an important morsel that I hadn't thought of when first conceptualizing what I wished to express. Once I recognize this I may rethink my entire essay. Using the post-modern magic of automated word processing, I can easily reorganize and alter the entire work to incorporate the needed detail.

In this case, I will do neither. I'm leaving that tassel dangling in the breeze intentionally to irritate you, dear reader. For you see: that is really the whole point. Its supposed to irritate you to illustrate the usefulness in not allowing to many off-topic side-notes to infect your otherwise concise essay with distractions. I have failed if you aren't asking, “well, what about the number of paragraphs I should use? How do I determine that?” Perhaps we will cover that in another article.

Review

It's been great having your company, dear friend. I'm glad we had this opportunity to spend some time. Having covered cohesion in adequate depth we can stretch our legs out a bit. Perhaps we shall go through a mental walk in the garden as we review what we have learned shall we not?

The evening's cool air refreshing our senses, the sent of roses and mint is omnipresent. As we stroll along the cobblestone path we discuss the overall notion of cohesion. A lack of cohesion sounds like perfect disaster and we will probably know it when we see it. For an essay to be readable it must have some sense of cohesion. It has to all fit together in some rational way. A cohesive essay will be structured and have a flow to it unimpeded by by loose ends.

As the night grows long, we bid farewell. The teacher always tends to learn as well as the student so we both feel more confident with our essay composition abilities. Until next time, dear reader. May the muse who is inspiration be with you in all your endeavors! writing | how to


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