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Take Your Writing From Good to Great

Lesson 6 of 7

Test the Logic of Your Argument

Jennie Nash

Take Your Writing From Good to Great

Jennie Nash

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Lesson Info

6. Test the Logic of Your Argument

Lesson Info

Test the Logic of Your Argument

Skill number four is test the logic of your argument. So we talked before about how every piece of writing has an argument. Testing the logic, so the vast majority of work that I see have come to me with problems of a circular logic. Circular meaning, we talked about this before, they're circling back in time, concepts come and they come back, and they're scattered about, and they're not intentionally on the page in a coherent order or whole. And this even is true within paragraphs. I often re-order people's, within their paragraphs, or re-order paragraphs within a scene or within, in non-fiction, I re-order stuff all the time because it's like, well wait, all this stuff about this one topic was up here and then it was also down here. It should be together. Think in terms of grouping almost. And that, it's a problem of logic, of being scattered about what you're, how you're pulling people through the work. So we talked before about that linear function not being the way that you write,...

but it is how you want the reader to move through the work. So you've gotta be sure, once you've got your, you've gone back and around and around and around and you're making the work better, and you're bringing it up, and you're improving it, then you've gotta really stop and say, "What is the experience like for my reader "moving through it in that linear, chronological way? "Is it clear? "Will they follow it? "Have I left something out? "Have I left them behind? "Is it, does it, you know, proceed?" And I use this term of cause and effect which comes from Lisa Cron, who is the author of Wired for Story and Story Genius, and she has a Creative Live class you guys can check out. Lisa is my client. I helped her on these books and the concept of cause and effect in fiction is a term that she talks a lot about. But cause and effect in all writing is a really great concept to understand. It has to do with you ask a question, you give an answer. You raise a point, you see that point through before you go to the next one. You tell a story, you finish the story. Even flashbacks in fiction can be seen in terms of cause and effect because you want, in story present, you're moving through the chronology, you want something to trigger the memory, that's the cause, and the flashback is really the effect. It's like, you know, the madeleines in Proust, that's the cause and then the memory is the effect. So the idea of cause and effect in writing is a very powerful one to use when you are testing the logic of your work. And you can actually write in the margins this idea of the concept and the reaction. That's the same thing, right? Action, reaction, action, reaction. What point am I raising? Where is it resolving? If you look at your work for those patterns, it will be very illuminating to you. You will be able to see what I see when I see stuff that's out of order. And it's just the logic of it. It's not, you know my favorite word of the day, it's not that I have some voodoo vision. It's that it's just not logical. Just like, put it into place and make it be logical for the reader. Usually writers have no objection to that, they just didn't see it. They just didn't see that it was diffuse really.

Class Description

For most professionals, writing is a major part of their work. Every day they write emails, cover letters, presentations, proposals, speeches and memos—all of which are needed to accomplish a specific goal. But if the writing is flat, fuzzy and unfocused, chances are the piece won’t have the desired impact.

What makes writing truly effective? It’s not about the grammar, word choices or sentence structure. It’s about being able to step back from the work and think like an editor. In this class, book and writing coach Jennie Nash will teach you the five key self-editing skills you need to take any piece of writing from good to great.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Figure out why your writing is falling flat.
  • Build revision into your writing process.
  • Take off your writer’s hat to assess the big picture.
  • Get into your reader’s head.
  • Test the logic of your argument.
  • Consider issues of voice, pacing and authority.
  • Listen to your words as if they were a song on the radio.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

How to Get Perspective Handout

Words Are a Renewable Resource

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Tomas Verver

Thanks Jennie for the great online course. It helped me improved my communcation and writing skills. It's helps make the proces of writing also more fun. I also read the books Made to Stick and some other referenced material. I agree we need to write from the perspective of the reader. I liked that your discussed different text purposes.


Great class! Jennie gave helpful, specific tips to elevate your writing. She showed several examples of weak writing and how to make them shine. I loved how she said, "Let yourself be a practicer." This idea that good writing takes tons of practice and we have to be okay throwing words out. I also loved the tips of getting into the reader's head as well as our character's head. We have to always be thinking and asking did we get our point onto the page? How can we make it clear to the reader.

Irina Aristarkhova

Jennie Nash is a great speaker, and I really liked the Q&A part of this class. I wish even more time could be left for questions, because the audience members seemed as a very advanced group of writers and their questions were helping to clarify the lessons. This class would be very helpful to those who have arguments and points to make and not just write for the sake of writing (for themselves and their narrow community of writer-friends). There was also a moment when Nash mentioned her dislike of "writing groups." I would love to hear more about that. I wish this training would be given to students of writing BEFORE they are asked to write anything as these are "higher order" type of lessons that the professional writing community often shuns to raise because they are actually very hard to address.