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HomeGuidelines > 4. Build chunky paragraphs. > 4b. Put the idea of the paragraph first.> Challenges





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Bonus! Hot Text chapter (117K, PDF, 2 minutes at 56K)



Reorganize and carve into paragraphs, each with a topic sentence.

Like the Gestaltists, Polya stresses the importance of restating the goal (working back from what you want to achieve to the materials given) and restating the givens (working forward from what you are given to the goal). Of course, these ideas are too vague to test experimentally, we cannot call his work empirically based, although it does, of course, derive from his many years teaching students to solve geometric and mathematical problems. He sketches out four steps for problem solving in How to Solve It (1957):

1. Understanding the problem, during which you ask, "What do I have in terms of data, or conditions?" and "What do I want, or what is still unknown?"

2. Devising a plan, during which, based on past experience, you come up with a plan by asking, "Do I remember a problem like this? Can I restate the goal in some new way, based on what I did before? Or can I restate the givens in some new way, working forward from there to my goal?"

3. Carrying out the plan, during which you do each step of your plan.

4. Looking back, during which you check your results by using some other method, to see if all the pieces fit together, and you ask yourself, "Can I use this method on some other problem?"

You can see that Polya’s first step, in which one endeavors to understand the problem, corresponds roughly to Wallas’ preparation. But part of devising the plan corresponds to that phase, as well, but includes what Wallas calls incubation and illumination, too. Looking back corresponds closely to Wallas’ verification. Without careful experiments, we cannot say for sure that either description is accurate, because both are subjective; our intuition agrees with both descriptions, but science expects more of us than hunches. So Polya ends up being, simply, another example of the introspective approach—suggestive, but not scientifically validated. Polya’s emphasis on rearranging our view of the givens or goal, though, resembles Gestaltian restructuring.


Other ways to make chunky paragraphs:

4a.  Design each paragraph around one idea.

4c. If you must include context, put that first.

4d. Put key conclusions, ideas, news, at the start of the article.

Resources on chunkiness

Taking a Position on chunkiness





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