Sequence Relationships in Writing

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13878

Structure and organization are the foundations of good writing. Learn and practice how to sequence events in your writing to create a cohesive and logical final product.

categories

Writing

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Take a look at these paragraphs from the beginning of Camping Out by Ernest Hemingway.

  • Can you put them in the correct order?

The order in which ideas are organized and presented in a text creates a road map of logic for the audience.

Read on to find out how!

The way writers present ideas in their writing is often referred to as organization, order, pattern, or relationship.

This describes the format writers use to sequence the points, arguments, or events in the text so that the reader can clearly understand and engage with the content.

There are many different ways to do this, and often the content of your writing will determine the best sequence to use.

Here are four main patterns of organization in writing:

Sequence

This is sometimes referred to as chronological because it typically deals with presenting information in the time order in which it happened.

Sequential order also refers to presenting steps in a process in instructional or how-to writing.

Sometimes you will need to present information spatially, however, meaning that you are leading the reader from one location to the next in your writing.

Example: A recipe blog that tells the reader how to make beef stroganoff.

step-by-step cooking beef stroganoff

Cause and Effect

This organization pattern responds to an argument or idea by presenting supporting information in cause-effect patterns.

Writers use this pattern to demonstrate how and why things came to be the way they are. By presenting information this way, you can pinpoint how variables in a situation can affect the outcome, and you can propose alternatives.

When focused on solving a problem, this can also be considered problem-solution organization.

This type of pattern can be used by discussing all relevant causes and all relevant effects in their own sections of the paper or by responding to each cause with its related effects paragraph by paragraph.

Example: An essay exploring causes of kidney failure and methods of prevention.

kidney failure

Compare and Contrast

This type of organization is patterned around the ways things are similar and the ways they differ.

Sometimes, it is easier for readers to understand a topic if it is explained in relation to other adjacent ideas in order to see where or how it fits in with that prior knowledge.

Compare and contrast organization can also be helpful in decision-making writing with advantages and disadvantages.

Example: A guide to selecting the right college that explores schools close to home and schools out of state in relation to each other.

college choices

Importance

In this organization pattern, you rank your supporting points in order of most important (or high impact) to least.

You can present this information leading with your most important point and work your way to your least, or you can go in the opposite order starting with your least important point.

Which direction you choose is ultimately a style decision and will vary depending on the way you intend to write your text, the topic, and the information you've assembled that you want to present.

Example: A press release detailing how city council plans to address a flood zone with emergency preparedness, water management, and economic development.

flood zone plan

Practice

For each potential writing assignment below, select which organization pattern would suit it best.

Use the information above to help guide your answers if needed.

  • Ready to learn more about how to use these patterns?

you got it

Then keep going in the Got It? section!

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