Organization, for writers, is
The human mind craves order. We look into the sky and we give names to the stars. Order permeates our perceptions, logical reasoning, and conversations with others.
- Organization is a mode of thinking, a tool of logic. To think, we name the world. We engage in logic to identify similarities and differences. We define, categorize and prioritize. We recall information by keeping like items together and keep contrasting items apart. We engage in logic to define the world and identify causes and effects, problems and solutions, recommendations and solutions.
- Organization is a mode of communication. Rhetors and audiences share common ways of ordering information for audiences (e.g., organizational schemas, genres, motifs, or archetypes). To communicate, rhetors impose an order on the information they want to share. In order to figure out the best organization for a document, rhetors analyze their rhetorical situation. They question how the audience could best understand the information that is being conveyed. Rhetors often move from given-to-new information. They also list information in order of priority or chronology or logic.
Writers are able to communicate with their audiences because they share organizational schemas (see, e.g., Organizational Schema & Logical Reasoning, Paragraph Schemas, Sentence Schemas) for organizing information. [For more on this, see What is Communication?]
- enhance the unity, clarity, and persuasiveness of your writing by
When it comes to organizing your thoughts for others, distinguish between two different levels of organization:
- Organization @ the Global Level
- Organization @ the Local Level
- The Local Level concerns organizational schemas that occur at paragraph, sentence, and word-level. For instance, readers expect a logical flow across sentences and paragraphs
In Writing Studies, it is commonplace to argue that writers are chiefly engaged with Organization @ the Global Level during composing, especially invention. The logic here is that writers first need to develop substantive texts–something worth reading–and this requires rhetorical reasoning.
Later, after the big stuff is done (e.g., the writer has engaged in strategic research, identified pertinent scholarly conversations, conducted primary and secondary research, then it’s strategic to begin examining Organization @ the Local Level.