From previous courses as published in this blog site, you may have been familiar with the word Plotmatics. You will do well to go through the courses just in case you don’t already know what it is all about. It is the writing concept explored in this blog. With it, business as usual is no longer the case where writing was initially viewed as an art and trial-and-error approach became the norm. As an art, good writing method became a matter of opinion and practice varying from author to author without a common accepted ground on what should generally be the case. Be that as it may, in this site writing is viewed as a science and that is what Plotmatics is all about. It means a scientific approach to writing. However, it is not the discussion here, but it is connected to it.
What is the paragraph? It will be recalled that the theme book has been defined as a book which is made up of chapters and pages built around a central theme. Of course, the theme of a book is the central idea underlying the discussions in a book. Every single thing said in the book fits into the framework of the theme, but writing in each page progresses by paragraphs. A page of a book is one which contains discussions organized in paragraphs. It begins with a paragraph, then another one and yet another till the entire page is filled out and another one is required. Two things are involved when doing a piece of writing: word count and the sense in what is being discussed. This means have the word count, but yet make sense. This is the reason pages were mentioned in the definition of the theme book.
The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the paragraph as a part of a piece of writing that usually deals with one subject, that begins on a new line, and that is made up of one or more sentences. Further, it says that it is a subdivision of a written composition that consists of one or more sentences, deals with one point or gives the words of one speaker, and begins on a new usually indented line. By these definitions, it means that writing is broken down into strips called paragraphs, which by convention deal with one item at a time in the discussion. Each strip with its fresh subject of discussion often begins on a new line to distinguish it from the others. It is required therefore that the author should stick to one point at a time in a paragraph. Hence, the paragraph is a subdivision of a body of writing with discussion built around a single point or idea at a time. The points are discussed in paragraphs one at a time. This implies that the discussion should be narrowed to one thing and it should not be hurried. This is how to built word count and ensure that the discussion is beaten out adequately. Always remember, though, that writing progresses by paragraphs. Getting it right at this stage means getting it right at every other stage and, hence, through out the book.
But just how does the paragraph fit into the writing plan? The paragraph in a page should fit into the writing plan. It should not deviate from the general discussion meant to be the object of a particular chapter. It should flow within the framework of the chapter under review. Basically, how this works is by setting an objective or agenda for a given chapter and revolving discussion around it. Of course, to every agenda for discussion, there are points to be discussed and these are handled in paragraphs one item at a time till the end of the chapter. The essence of this discussion is to show you how not to write a chapter without a plan. It is often good to have a plan and to stick with it.
Many take off with their writing without any structure in place. They just have in mind that they have chosen to write and they get on with it somehow, only to be left somewhere in the middle frothing their minds back and forth for what to put down next. To avoid this, have a structure or plan by which to proceed with your work. This is handled in the next paragraph.
Plotmatics already has been defined in the opening paragraph as a way to remind you what it is all about or to show to you what is intended by that concept. Here, it is brought to bear to help you get around the challenge of writing the paragraph and hence an entire chapter of a book. There are three things to be explored in this discussion: agenda, discussion items and methodology. I shall naked the secret of writing this piece of essay in the course of this discussion, but before then, the agenda of a chapter is the purpose for writing that chapter. You simply ask yourself, “What is the purpose for this chapter? What do I seek to do by writing this chapter?”. After the question, it would be wise to put it down. It could be a statement, a phrase or even a word as the case may be, provided it says what you mean to do or it gives you the desired direction. To write this essay the agenda was to show how to write the paragraph and have word count while making sense. Perhaps, the next item in our list should be discussed in another paragraph to make for clear understanding and to not over-labor the present paragraph with a lot of things to discuss.
Discussion items are a layout of things you wish to handle in separate paragraphs, having set out your agenda. It works as much as plotting points on a graph sheet to guide you through the writing process. Here, is how the discussion points of this essay were done.
Agenda – to show how to write the paragraph and have word count while making sense
DI1 – what is the paragraph?
DI2 – how does it fit into the writing plan?
DI3 – what are some of the problems of producing a paragraph in writing?
DI4 –the Plotmatics of writing the paragraph: agenda of the chapter, step-by-step approach, items of discussion,
DI5 – examples
DI6 – conclusion
For convenience, each item has been denoted with alphabets and numbers. DI means Discussion Item while the numbers are serial numbers assigned to each denoting a number of a paragraph. DI1 for example denotes discussion item one for paragraph 1, and so on in that order.
Next is methodology. This is how you intend to approach your writing, and it is a very important tool. Without it, writing runs wild and cannot be controlled. The author needs to tell himself that this is just how he wishes to proceed with his writing and this is called methodology – how one wishes to make one’s case. It has been mentioned that a single item of discussion should be handled in a paragraph one at a time and this should not be hurried. In Plotmatics, the recommended method of delivery of the lines in a paragraph is the step-by-step approach. This means, just as its name implies, to do your writing one step at a time. It is often good to start from the general idea to the specific. Start from the general case of the discussion and break it down gradually in steps till you are done with the paragraph and you have made your point. Examples are the paragraphs of this essay so far. They take off from the general case and get broken down to the barest minimum until the paragraph is finished, and the point is properly made. It will benefit you to go by topic sentences for each paragraph. This is a sentence often used to chart the course of a discussion in a paragraph. For example, sales were low this year… Nigeria is a nascent democracy… Every writing is done in paragraphs… and so on. All of these have one thing in common – each one bellies details within oneself. This is not the discussion here though, but discussion develops afterwards from the topic sentences.
Writing, as has been shown, should be done as deliberate enough for good yield in the desired direction, until then the author may have to continue grappling with his work as one who depends on trial-and-error.