The Order of the Paragraphs

I’ve said often that figuring out what the sentences should say is an easier writing task than figuring out in what order the sentences should appear. Much of editing involves adjusting the sequence of paragraphs — as it is the order that contains/exhibits the logic structure of your argument.

In this brief profile of White House speechwriter Jon Favreau and his writing of Obama’s second inaugural, he says this:

Two Sundays before the speech, Favreau had a draft. From there, he and the president continued to exchange edits. Obama jotted down his thoughts — longhand and with small, neat penmanship — on a yellow notepad, a mild irritant for the speechwriting team, which remembered fondly how he would use track changes on his laptop during the 2008 campaign. It was impossible to recall how many actual drafts the two had gone through.

“[Obama’s] known for his rhetoric, right?” said Favreau. “But he’s also got a very lawyerly, logical mind. And so the thing he always does best is putting every argument in order.”

1 comment on “The Order of the Paragraphs
  • May I suggest that organizing your thoughts is an area where you could put your meditative practice to good use?

    To paraphrase the estimable Dr. Johnson, “Nothing concentrates one’s mind so much as the realization that one is going to be lynched by media hacks and blogging idiots for every rhetorical stumble.”

    I wish you success in your quest for self-mastery, but I still think you might find it useful to smoke the blessed weed, as long as you are not prone to paranoid thinking.


    Would you care to write a post about how the barbaric custom of men sending flowers and chocolates to their sweethearts on Valentine’s Day only perpetuates the cultural domination of the patriarchy?

    That would really concentrate your mind.;-)

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