What Does Make a Text More Effective?

In this post you will find a new perspective of writing which is offered by Peter Elbow. First, I will share with the main ideas of Elbow’s article “The Music of Form: Rethinking Organization in Writing”. Then, I will tell which techniques or elements are offered by the author to make the text more interesting and lively, including my comments. Finally, I will share with my opinion as a reader.

Peter Elbow raises very interesting rhetorical issue which often occurs in academic writing such as analytical essay. Elbow says that academic writing usually doesn’t have clear “picture” and “voice” in a text in comparison with narratives or stories.  Thereby, many readers might be lost or bored because of low logical coherence, not seeing the whole picture, and difficulty of anticipation of the text. Moreover, the author thinks that every text should have its own rhythm, form, logical coherence, voice, and thinking in action using verbs. To explain his main ideas, Elbow often uses analogies or metaphors. For example, the author provides an analogy between an ant who is not able to see the whole text or picture and a reader who usually has the same problem. Therefore, the reader is confused, bored, and doesn’t want to continue reading. Consequently, one of the author’s goals is to discuss what matters and how to compose a paper so a reader could see the whole picture of the text and be interested in it.

In addition to metaphors and analogies the author advices apply mapping, signposts, and graphs which provide general picture of the text. In comparison with the visual elements, logical coherence, focal point of attention, and rhythm are able to provide dynamic organization and nice flow of ideas in the text. I totally agree with Elbow at this point. I think that mapping and nice transitions which help a reader to anticipate what point. I think that mapping and nice transitions which help a reader to anticipate what might be the next step at writing raise interest and desire to read the entire paper. I also agree that any text should have its own “voice” because the author’s voice makes the text unique and lively.

The author emphasizes the higher importance of coherence and “voice” in the text rather than structure. However, I think that we shouldn’t separate or emphasize the importance of one particular element of writing from others. There are two reasons why I think so. The first one is that Elbow first says that structure is not very important and visual elements such as bullet points or signposts are outdated. Later in the text he contradicts to him, saying that structure anyway is important. I think the audience might be confused what the author really wants to emphasize. The second one is that to say which element in writing is more or less important is not reasonable because all elements are interconnected and interdependent. It is almost the same to say that liver is less important than a human heart or brain. Text is similar to a human organism which has its own temper, voice, appearance, and special traits.

To finish my post, I would like to express my opinion as a reader about the Elbow’s article. Writing the text, Elbow tried to use all techniques and elements of effective writing to provide a clear picture, text “voice”, and coherence of the paper. However, he is not effective writer from my point of view. Elbow repeats the same ideas many times using empty language which seemed to me boring and scientific. Frankly speaking, I was bored and I didn’t have desire to read the whole paper even though the author applied a lot of skills to make his writing more visual and interesting. I am saying this to show that talking about structure, coherence, voice, visual aspects, rhythm, and tonality of writing; we should also take into account ways the author writes his or her opinion and expresses his or her “voice” at the text.


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