Narrative Sequencing Informs Meaning

The sequence of information in any story or narrative contributes to the overall meaning of the text. The impact of a fact or an insight can be amplified or diminished depending on what comes before or after.

People can be strongly persuaded by sequencing. Evidence builds like a crescendo. If you lead with the most amazing fact, the rest will seem dull and boring by comparison. Meanwhile, contrast helps render the contours of an idea—but so can similarity, when applied judiciously.

But, keep in mind your purpose: if your goal is to inform rather than to persuade, your approach should change accordingly. A newspaper reporter updating a reader on the events of the day shouldn't write a mystery story.


Related

Citations

Flaherty, Francis. The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing. Reprint edition. Harper Perennial, 2010.


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