The order in which to present the main topics requires thoughtful study. A logical development of a subject by which the reader is led, step by step, from the first sentence to the last in the easiest and most natural way, is the ideal arrangement. An article should march right along from beginning to end, without digressing or marking time. The straight line, in writing as in drawing, is the shortest distance between two points.
In narration the natural order is chronological. To arouse immediate interest, however, a writer may at times deviate from this order by beginning with a striking incident and then going back to relate the events that led up to it. This method of beginning in medias res is a device well recognized in fiction. In exposition the normal order is to proceed from the known to the unknown, to dovetail the new facts into those already familiar to the reader.
When a writer desires by his article to create certain convictions in the minds of his readers, he should consider the arrangement best calculated to lead them to form such conclusions. The most telling effects are produced, not by stating his own conclusions as strongly as possible, but rather by skillfully inducing his readers to reach those conclusions by what they regard as their own mental processes. That is, if readers think that the convictions which they have reached are their own, and were not forced upon them, their interest in these ideas is likely to be much deeper and more lasting. It is best, therefore, to understate conclusions or to omit them entirely. In all such cases the writer's aim in arranging his material should be to direct his readers' train of thought so that, after they have finished the last sentence, they will inevitably form the desired conclusion.
With the main topics arranged in the best possible order, the writer selects from his available material such details as he needs to amplify each point. Examples, incidents, statistics, and other particulars he jots down under each of the chief heads. The arrangement of these details, in relation both to the central purpose and to each other, requires some consideration, for each detail must have its logical place in the series. Having thus ordered his material according to a systematic plan, he has before him a good working outline to guide him in writing.
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