What is the Cone Shaped Writing Method?

Surely there must be a better name, but I simply cannot think of one. I will concede that others who may have come up with a similar method, probably have a cooler name – but I am at a loss. Be that as it may, the cone-shaped method of writing has worked wonders for me, so I thought I would share it with you.

Feast ‘yur eyes! on the cone-shaped method. How something so ugly can be so good is still a mystery to much of civilization. I drew this with my finger on my iPad, so I deserve a little grace.

As you can see, broad at the top, narrow at the bottom. The cone is a perfect illustration of how we can give our writing direction and flow. For example, let’s say we need to write an abstract, or maybe an introduction paragraph in our paper. We can start our introduction out with a very broad sentence. In my book, I use the topic of slavery and the Civil War for a sample outline, so I will stay with that here. Let’s say that our paper was on Abraham Lincoln’s view of slavery. Because my first sentence needs to be very broad, it would look something like this:

  • Sentence 1: Abraham Lincoln was a polarizing president because of his view on slavery.

Notice how I don’t spend the first sentence of my paper diving into the topic – that’s because, according to this writing method, my first statements are very general and then get more detailed the further I get into the paper. Thus, I might use sentence 2 to elaborate on the first sentence:

  • Sentence 2: While the North was sympathetic to Lincoln’s abolitionist views, the South felt that Lincoln was a threat to the wealth and welfare of their lives.

Sentence 2 is more detailed than Sentence 1. Now, sentence 3 will add even more explanation and detail about what my paper will address:

  • Sentence 3: In response to this threat, the South began to secede from the Union and elected their own president, Jefferson Davis.

Sentence 4 will now use the information I’ve provided to deliver my thesis:

  • Sentence 4: This paper will discuss the controversial nature of Lincoln’s presidency and his response to the secession of the South.
  • Sentence 5: Though his presidency was controversial, his life before politics in Illinois offers an insight into how Lincoln would handle his rise to fame.

Let’s look at this put altogether:

Abraham Lincoln was a polarizing president because of his view on slavery. While the North was sympathetic to Lincoln’s abolitionist views, the South felt that Lincoln was a threat to the wealth and welfare of their lives. In response to this threat, the South began to secede from the Union and elected their own president, Jefferson Davis. This paper will discuss the controversial nature of Lincoln’s presidency and his response to the secession of the South. Though his presidency was controversial, his life before politics in Illinois offers an insight into how Lincoln would handle his rise to fame.

Notice how we went from simply saying that Lincoln was a polarizing figure all the down to mentioning his response to secession and response to controversy during the Civil War.

The Shape of Your Entire Paper

Whole Paper Cone Shaped Writing

Whole Paper Cone Shaped Writing Method

Not only can we apply the cone-shaped method to write our introduction, we can apply it to every paragraph, and to our entire paper! Think of the top of the cone as the introduction paragraph. Subsequent paragraphs continue to work in greater detail toward fulfilling the thesis until all of the questions and details have been addressed and the paper is complete at the bottom of the cone.

If you want your writing to take on a greater direction and focus, try using the cone shaped method as it leads the reader logically from one conclusion to the next. The cone-shaped method: it may be ugly, but it sure is good!

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