Ideally, everything about a book, magazine article, TV show, movie, or music (and I’m sure a bajillion other things) should guide you down a path of discovery and understanding. The title should reflect the contents. Artwork should clarify and enhance what has been written. Even the form of publication will offer clues to the author’s intent.
This relatively simple idea may seem confusing and hard to grasp, at first. After all, we’re told to not judge a book by its cover. We’re told to have an open mind. We’re even told that some things, like fiction, are simply too broad for true understanding. Lies. All of it.
Instead, when reading, a properly written and formatted and planned piece of work will guide you down a path of increased understanding (see, Introductions).
Every aspect of writing should lead you down a path of If→Then. Or, if this happens then this other things happens. Over and over and over again.
One way to begin looking at this is The Hobbit, or, There and back again by J.R.R. Tolkien. The title tells us two things:
This is a story about a journey, a quest, and the title (whether or not we have enough information) tells us as much.
Everything that follows, from the title, the picture, everything will lead to an eventual and purposeful ending. Period.
Our basic structure for reading is If→Then, which should result in the reader questioning why the author has included some bit of information or dialogue or detail. Why does the title of The Hobbit include or, There and back again? And what should I understand or know moving forward?
This isn’t just true of novels or short stories, though these are often the easiest to illustrate. The principle extends into essays and news articles. It’s a core principle of articulate communication patterns and practices.
(see also, Show vs Tell
The power of three follows a simple business practice (McKinsey) in which company problems are distilled or simplified down to three key parts. In distilling, an individual can go up to four. However, anything more than three parts is strongly encouraged to become a new problem set.
So to with writing, especially in terms of essays and argumentative writing, should The Power of Three be applied. An essay or argument is a factualy piece of writing that heavily relies on the facts, data, and information presented as a foundation for what is produced. Successful presentation of material requires that the essay or argument is simplified so the necessary supporting material can be applied.
Outlining, as a general rule, should look a lot like:
The reason sticking to three (and no more) points isn’t just about proper business practices, it’s about focusing effort and understanding, focusing argument and proof, such that research and writing are limited to only a few items; and so that an audience can more easily understand and follow your essay or argument.
Needs additional content.
If the purpose of writing is to (as clearly as you can) convey information or ideas to other people, then the simile and metaphor are a pair of your best friends. What the simile and metaphor do is create a comparison between two things. For example:
The sun is like a ripe orange.
Your hair is like fine silk.
You stand in beauty like the night.
In each case, something is like something else. These aren’t exact 1:1 comparisons. They’re not perfect, nor do they need to be. Instead, the comparison is meant to convey an idea of what the writer is thinking in terms of the object of what’s being written about.
In this case, the use of “is like” is being used as a simile. Or these two things are kind of like each other in this simple way.
However, a metaphor is something more complex and can be a bit confusing and harder to notice. Like the simile, a metaphor compares two things, but in a much broader and longer way.
Plot is, simply, the sequence of main events or actions that take place between the beginning of a story and the end.
The Harry Potter series is seven book long. They are as follows:
Each book can, to some extent, be read without any of the other books. Yet, the Harry Potter story, as a whole (meaning Harry Potter vs. Lord Voldemort) requires all seven books. This means that the entire plot of Harry Potter is seven books long.
The plot structure of the series, with each individual book, look like:
You may notice that this builds out each individual book pretty well, while not being specific to any single book. Yet, there’s the basic plot structure of the Harry Potter series of books. Only, there’s an even bigger plot structure (which is why this series was picked) in which Harry has to fight his way to survival.
There it is, seven books in a plot progression.
* — The thesis is a presentation of how the argument will form following a top-down approach to presentation of ideas, data, information, events, and so on.
† — The conclusion should be a restatement and reflection or review on the introduction and evidence presented in the essay or argument.
‡ — The original, British publication had the title as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was changed for the American audience because: Americans.