Use an inductive organizational structure to surprise readers or to address controversial topics.

While writers are under increasing pressure to organize information deductively, they can--and do--write inductively. Typically, writers employ a more inductive style when the topic is controversial or when they wish to surprise readers.

Controversial Issues

When writing documents that address controversial issues or matters that threaten the beliefs of their readers, writers may find it strategic to place their arguments in their conclusions rather than their introductions.

Surprise Readers

Readers of novels expect to be delighted with surprise endings. In contrast, readers of nonfiction don't expect the surprise ending, so they can be especially appreciative of a carefully constructed surprise. Note below, for example, the way Dianne Lynch surprises you with the line, "you are using the Internet to fight back"--a line in direct juxtaposition to the first 122 words of her short essay "Afghan Women Reach Out Via the Web."

  • You can't laugh or talk aloud in public, and even your shoes must make no sound. Wearing cosmetics or showing your ankles is punishable by whipping; women have had their fingers amputated for wearing nail polish.
  • You paint the windows of your house black so you cannot be seen from the outside. You are forbidden from walking on your balcony or in your backyard. It has been years since the sun shone on your face. And all public references to you have disappeared.
  • You are a woman in Afghanistan today, living under the regime of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban.
  • And if you are one of the nearly 2,000 women who belong to The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, or RAWA, you are using the Internet to fight back.

When writing essays for school contexts, be sure to check whether your instructor will permit an inductive organization. While an inductive approach can be an effective strategic approach, some readers--particularly in academic and business contexts--define "good writing" as writing that follows a deductive structure.


"Specific to General (Inductive)" was written by Joseph Moxley, University of South Florida