Wired for Coherence

Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 20 minutes

Write three sentences from different sources on the board (these come from 3 short stories by different authors).
1) After breakfast the next morning they set out from the main dock, in four canoes, three in each.

2) " Is that an obscene gesture?" she asked.

3) But children bring you grief, the same way they bring you joy.
Ask students to write a paragraph filling in the story between the three sentences; they may rearrange the sentences if they want to. Ask two or three students to read their paragraphs aloud. Explain then that the sentences actually come from three separate sources. As readers, we expect things to make sense, to be connected. Even if there's no obvious connection, we'll fill one in. As writers, then, we'd best make connections clear if we don't think they'll be obvious to readers; otherwise, left to their own devices, readers may devise connections that don't help our argument.