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Text Structure

Sep 1, 2022
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We watch movies. We also read books. Every movie and book has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The story begins from a point, transitions to the next phase, and comes to either a satisfying or a tragic conclusion. 

This is called the structure of a work. 

The framework of a text’s beginning, middle, and end are called a text structure. Different text structures are vital because the different narrative and expository genres serve distinct purposes and target different audiences. Beginnings and endings serve to tie the material together into a cohesive whole. 

Let us take a look at the different structures of a text in detail:

Beginning

For a writer, deciding where to start is vital. A good start can lure a reader into a piece of writing, whereas a mediocre start can act as a hurdle for a reader to proceed further. The beginning, also known as the lead or the hook, introduces the reader to the goal of the writing by introducing the setting or characters (for narrative) or the topic, thesis, or argument (for argumentative writing or expository writing). A solid beginning also establishes expectations for the piece’s purpose, style, and tone. Good authors use strategies like description, flashback, dialogue, inner thoughts, and diving straight into the action to attract their readers in the first few phrases and paragraphs. 

Middle

The way a piece of writing’s middle is organized is determined by the genre. Sequence, description, cause, and effect, compare and contrast, and problem and solution are the five primary organizational structures recognized by researchers. 

parallel

The organizing structure of sequence is chronological, numerical, or geographic order. Personal narrative genres (autobiographical incident, memoir, autobiography), imaginative story genres (folktales, fairytales, science fiction, fantasy), and realistic fiction genres are examples of narrative genres that use a chronological sequence structure. An initial incident, complex events that develop to a high point, and a resolution are all part of the narrative story structure. Many stories also feature the protagonist’s objectives and the challenges that must be faced to reach those objectives. 

The term description is used to describe the distinguishing characteristics and occurrences of a particular subject (“My Cat”) or a broad category (“Cats”). Descriptive reports can be organized by categories of linked properties, progressing from broad categories to specific attributes. 

To show causal linkages between occurrences, a cause-and-effect structure is utilized. The word because is used in essays to explain cause and effect by presenting reasons to support relationships. If/then statements, as a result, and therefore are also signal words for cause and effect structures. 

In an argument, the compare and contrast structure is used to illustrate how two or more objects, situations, or events are similar or different from one another. To compare features across categories, graphic organizers such as compare/contrast organizers, Venn diagrams, and tables can be employed. Same, alike, in contrast, similarities, differences, and on the other hand are words used to indicate comparison and contrast organizational structures. 

Writers must state a problem and offer a remedy in problem and solution. Although problem/solution frameworks are most commonly found in informational writing, they are also frequently used in realistic fiction. 

parallel

End

Strong endings are just as important to good writing as strong starts, as anyone who has watched a terrific movie for ninety minutes only to have it dragged to the finish with a weak finale knows. Even great directors struggle to come up with good endings for their films, as anyone who has seen the director’s cut of a film with all the potential endings knows. Writers, like filmmakers, must decide how to bring their stories to a close, resolving conflict and wrapping up loose ends in a way that leaves their audience satisfied. 

The type of conclusion an author selects is determined by the goal of the work. When the goal is to entertain, the endings can be happy or tragic, or a twist can be provided via a surprise ending. Endings can be cyclical, looping back to the beginning so that readers finish where they started, or they might leave the reader wanting  more. Endings can be purposefully ambiguous or sardonic to make the reader think, or they might directly explain the story’s moral, instructing the reader on how to think. Expository text endings might recap the highlights, restate the essential ideas, or close with a zinger statement to emphasize the main point to the audience. 

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