These are two sample paragraphs revised to show how the information in a paragraph can be arranged in different ways



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These are two sample paragraphs revised to show how the information in a paragraph can be arranged in different ways.

The revisions are not necessarily better, but they reveal two essential things:


  1. You can present ideas in all sorts of different ways. Just because they came out one way when you first wrote them does not mean that they have to stay that way.

  2. The arrangement of ideas can create a pattern, which can improve both understanding and appreciation, even when the reader is not consciously aware of the pattern.

The samples come from a paper analyzing Kim Stafford’s essay, “The Barn and the Bees” (from Having Everything Right, Confluence Press, 1986).





  1. Put at least three examples from the essay (illustrating the point of that paragraph) at the beginning of the paragraph, and at least two different examples at the end. In the middle, put an explanation that states the point of the paragraph and shows how/why the examples support the point.


The original paragraph:

The essay opens with the author in a car full of manure, which suggests its own story. He sees a crudely worded, ungrammatical sign with an arrow drawn in red crayon; these details imply a story about the person who made it, while the sign itself promises a story behind the lumber it advertises. The author’s investigation of the ruin is its own story, but the ruin also promises a story, or many: Who built it? Why is it ruined? Why are these things here (a wagon, a boat)? What about those bees? Finally, the author’s conversation with the owner tells the story of their negotiation, coming to an agreement about what to do with the barn, but also reveals a little more of the story of the barn itself, why it’s down but not out.

Here is the original paragraph again, this time with illustrations marked in green, explanations marked in yellow.
The essay opens with the author in a car full of manure, which suggests its own story. He sees a crudely worded, ungrammatical sign with an arrow drawn in red crayon; these details imply a story about the person who made it, while the sign itself promises a story behind the lumber it advertises. The author’s investigation of the ruin is its own story, but the ruin also promises a story, or many: Who built it? Why is it ruined? Why are these things here (a wagon, a boat)? What about those bees? Finally, the author’s conversation with the owner tells the story of their negotiation, coming to an agreement about what to do with the barn, but also reveals a little more of the story of the barn itself, why it’s down but not out.
The revised version:
The essay opens with the author in a car carrying a load of manure. He sees a crudely worded, ungrammatical sign with an arrow drawn in red crayon, advertising cheap lumber. Investigating, he discovers a half-collapsed barn full of intriguing items—a boat, a wagon, a hive of bees. Each of these details suggests its own story, by way of questions that story might answer: Why manure? Who wrote that sign? What happened to the barn, and how did all those things get there? At the same time, the author’s exploration is a story in itself. This process of discovering and hinting at stories continues as he learns about the barn from a neighbor (“She was going to say more…”) and negotiates with the owner to salvage the lumber.

  1. Put explanation at the start, then at least two illustrations in the middle, and then more explanation at the end.



The original paragraph:
The main part comprises four subsections: Capturing the bees, visitors, an interlude, and more visitors. Again, each subsection tells multiple stories. There is the story of the bees themselves—where they built, what they are doing, how they respond to the collapse and then the capture of their hive. Stafford’s description evokes the theme: the bees have a “city compact with purpose in a neglected place” (178). Each visitor brings a story—the boys who want a tree house, the man who called the barn an “eyesore,” the woman who wished it could have stayed, and so on. The interlude tells us that so many stories call for rest: “I had to stop, I had to walk away from it, ... to walk again and rest from the persistent unity of the ruin” (181). The author naps, and when he wakes he finds “a shape of my own dwelling in the grass” (182): even so transient a “dwelling” as a nap in a meadow leaves a “shape” like the barn, a story.
Here is the original paragraph again, this time with illustrations marked in green, explanations marked in yellow.

The main part comprises four subsections: Capturing the bees, visitors, an interlude, and more visitors. Again, each subsection tells multiple stories. There is the story of the bees themselves—where they built, what they are doing, how they respond to the collapse and then the capture of their hive. Stafford’s description evokes the theme: the bees have a “city compact with purpose in a neglected place” (178). Each visitor brings a story—the boys who want a tree house, the man who called the barn an “eyesore,” the woman who wished it could have stayed, and so on. The interlude tells us that so many stories call for rest: “I had to stop, I had to walk away from it, ... to walk again and rest from the persistent unity of the ruin” (181). The author naps, and when he wakes he finds “a shape of my own dwelling in the grass” (182): even so transient a “dwelling” as a nap in a meadow leaves a “shape” like the barn, a story.
The revised version:
The main part comprises four subsections, each of which tells multiple stories: Capturing the bees, visitors, an interlude, and more visitors. He tells us where the bees built, what they are doing, how they respond to the collapse and then the capture of their hive. The bees have a “city compact with purpose in a neglected place” (178). Next he is visited by the boys who want a tree house, the man who called the barn an “eyesore,” the woman who wished it could have stayed, and so on. In the interlude, he tells us, “I had to stop, I had to walk away from it, ... to walk again and rest from the persistent unity of the ruin” (181). The author naps, and when he wakes he finds “a shape of my own dwelling in the grass” (182). Stafford’s descriptions evoke the theme through the mention of neglect and careful attention to what is neglected. The events do so by evoking each visitor’s story.The interlude tells us that so many stories call for rest, and even so transient a “dwelling” as a nap in a meadow leaves a “shape” like the barn, a story.



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