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Cohesion: What Does Your Path Look Like?

Cohesion is all about the way the text flows and relates to itself and the message of the story. If the reader stumbles or sinks into the ground, their focus is no longer on their surroundings (your story), but on whatever they stumbled over. Readers stumble on incomplete dialogue, sink into muddy, inconsistent plot lines, and grow weary with run-on sentences.

Imagine your favorite walking path. Perhaps you like to walk by a river, perhaps out on an open road. Maybe you walk on busy streets. Stories can be like those walking paths.

In writing, especially in story writing, it's easy to get caught up in the plot, characters, and excitement of the story. Think of writing as roads the reader walks down, roads that make up the journey that they have as they go along. No matter what the readers experience on their journey, they should always feel as though they walk on smooth and solid ground.

It is always important that characters speak to readers and that plots keep them engaged. The journey a reader takes can show them new sights, introduce them to all different types of beings, and help them turn new corners.

It's also important to be concise in writing, to make sure that the plot, characters, dialogue, and description are proportional to the message of the piece. If characters never speak, a reader might feel as though they walk through a silent, lonely world with no interaction. If there is no description, the reader might feel as though their way is clouded by fog; they move forward but they cannot see what is around them.

Every piece of writing, however short, builds a world for readers. Even the shortest walking paths have dirt, pavement, or grass to walk on. Cohesive writing brings all of the elements together so that the scene makes sense. For example, every path is lined with flowers, bicycles, or tents, just like every piece of writing has some type of setting, however abstract. Without a setting, the piece would be less cohesive.

Even if a piece of writing is solely dialogue, it is described by the characters.

Writing is cohesive if the text relates to the overall theme and message. Cohesion is important because it helps a piece to make sense to the reader. Dialogue gives the reader something to hear as they walk. Description gives the reader eyes to see the world the writer has built for them. All of these things together create cohesion.


About the Author: Olivia McCrackin is a third-year student at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. She currently studies International Studies, French, and political science. Her interests include reading fiction, writing stories, and studying languages. She hopes to travel abroad in the coming year for her studies and continued pursuit of these interests.


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