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Invention means finding out what to say and the best plan on which to arrange what is said.
The Difficulty. - In the former part of this work, we have spoken chiefly of the dress in which our thoughts are clothed, now we come to speak of the thoughts themselves and of the methods of discourse. With young writers, this is the most difficult and discouraging part of composition. When they have thoughts, as in conversation or in letter-writing, they can always manage to express them in some way. But how to get the thoughts? how to tell what to say? that is the real difficulty.
is the real difficulty. The following hints, if carefully attended to, will afford some assistance.
How to begin. - When a subject has been selected, the student must set to work to think over it. As thoughts come into the mind he should note them down. It is not necessary to write them out in full, but merely to make such a note of them as will enable him to recall them when needed.
How to get Thoughts. — When thoughts do not come, they can sometimes be drawn out by asking How? When? Why? Where? Then, again, ideas may be found by conversing with people who know something of the subject; they may also be gathered from the works of those who have written on the same or on similar subjects. The learner should always think over what is acquired in this way and try to make the thoughts his own, so that when he comes to express them, he may be able to do so in his own language.
Construction. After all available material has been collected, and the subject has been thought over till it is fairly understood, the next thing to do is to arrange the matter under distinct heads. Usually it is well to have but few divisions; they should be entirely separate, and should lead naturally and easily
from point to point in the subject. Ample time should be given to making a simple, clear, and logical framework.
When the material is all under the eye in the form of notes, search it carefully for the leading thoughts. Be sure you do not rank as principal, any of the thoughts that may be classified under some one of the general heads. See that no point is allowed to appear twice, disguised under different words. If you find any points that at first seem relevant, but on further consideration, are not so, throw them out without hesitation.
In every kind of discourse the question of order is vital. No subject can be written out clearly unless the framework is regular and symmetrical. There is always one order that is superior to all others. Study your material till you
find it. Amplification. When the material has been arranged under the different heads, the next thing to be done is to treat each head as a separate subject, but also as forming part of a whole. In thinking these over, note down carefully, as before, all the thoughts that arise ; seek for illustrations of the main idea in the topic, and of each thought or view that it contains. Find also, if you can, some apt quotation by which your point may be enforced. When all the thoughts and illustrations that can be obtained are noted down, begin to arrange them in logical order. Then in thought review the whole again and again, till the mind has mastered every part of it and is in a manner filled with it. When this is done, all is ready to begin the labor of writing out.
Form. Every theme, when complete, consists of three parts the Introduction, the Discussion, and the Conclusion.
The Introduction usually consists of two parts. The first part contains one or more sentences that prepare the way for the second part. This consists of a statement of the proposition or subject to be discussed. Sometimes the two parts are combined, or the first part is omitted altogether.
The Discussion is the methodical development of the proposition. This should grow naturally from the leading thought, and should proceed on a well arranged plan.
The Conclusion is that part of discourse by which it is properly completed. It may be used to repeat the chief points, to remove doubts, to explain difficulties, to enlist sympathies, or to strengthen convictions. In it the most elaborate expressions may be used; the last sentence should be one of such finished beauty that it will linger in the hearer's mind.
Writing out. — It has been said that teachers never can be good writers, because their mind is so much set on correctness of form, that the warmth of feeling is chilled, and the flow of ideas is cramped. There is much truth in this, as a general proposition. If the mind is trammelled with rules and formulas, it does not act with freedom, but with a stiffness that mars the beauty of the production. In view of this fact, it will be found best to write on as freely and rapidly as the thoughts come to the mind, without paying much attention to the words used, to the rhetorical form of the sentences, to grammatical rules, or to anything except the expression of the thought. It is a good plan to write the lines some distance apart, so as to allow space for interlining.
Review. — After the whole essay, or any one of the parts, has been written out, read it over carefully to see if all the thoughts have been expressed, and expressed in the proper place, as well as in the most suitable manner. If the first writing seems generally unsatisíactory, rewrite the whole again, and even a third time. Such labor will be amply repaid.
Criticism. - After the writing out has been finished, the work of criticism should begin. In this part of the task, the following points should receive due attention :
1. The spelling and the grammatical structure of the sentences should be carefully examined.
2. The words employed should be examined under the rules laid down for Diction.
3. The sentences should be closely considered, to see whether they conform to all the principles that govern the Formation of Sentences.
4. The figures of speech should be examined to see that they are well conceived and appropriate.
5. In criticising the illustrations and quotations, one should inquire whether they bring out or enforce the exact points that are to be made clear or prominent.
6. No word or form of expression should be repeated so frequently as to make the style stiff or monotonous.
7. The sentences must be smoothly and logically connected with one another, and properly marked off into paragraphs.
8. The paragraphs must be joined so as not to break up the continuity of the writing.
PRACTICE IN COMPOSITION. - A PARAGRAPH.
As we have previously seen, the paragraph is a complete composition. Now, all discourse consists only of a number of paragraphs, properly arranged and connected; hence, when a person has learned to write one paragraph correctly, he has in some sense mastered the art of composition.
Since the paragraph is the next larger division of discourse after the sentence, it follows that, when one has learned how to write a sentence, the next step is to learn how to form a paragraph.
In order to make this part of the subject as practical as possible, it is proposed to go through the construction of a number of paragraphs, as produced in the ordinary course of school work.
The class are requested to write a paragraph of four or five sentences on “The Importance of Farming.” To assist them the following hints are given :
1. The paragraph is to consist of three parts : a topic sentence, reasons why "farming is important," and a conclusion.
2. As the first sentence contains the general statement, the
thought has not to be sought for; the form of expression is all that is necessary to find.
3. The body of the paragraph will contain the statements that go to establish the topic, to illustrate, or to enforce it.
4. To find these ask yourself, To whom is it important? How is it important? Why is it important? How can I illustrate each or any of these points?
5. Lastly will come a reflection forming the conclusion.
After all the exercises are brought in, read, and marked, two are selected, placed on the blackboard, and criticised with the assistance of the class. Then these two paragraphs are given to the whole class to study, correct, and return.
The marks on the margin are made to indicate the suggestions for improvement.
* Cap P
D W W D
Farming is An Important industry
It is well known to every person that farming
is one of the best industries in the world. It D is an employment for the poor laboring men
during the year. It increases navigation very K Ex much by shipping grain to other countries
where they grow none. It provides food and Cap Gr other things that are necessary to keep us, if
it was not for the farmers how would the city P
or town people live. Since farming is the best
industry going the people that are not farmers С
should help the farmers as much as they could.
* For explanation of
symbols used, see" Correcting Compositions,” below.