A real writing manual is a study guide. The theme. How to design, develop, enrich, revise and embellish the written text of Mario Polito, where the author emphasizes the importance of using the so-called connecting phrases to make a written text more fluid and fluent.
Writing with clarity and effectiveness requires, for Polito, a technique that can be learned. However, always safeguarding one’s own personal style, the “own voice”.
The four basic steps to develop a theme are:
- the conception
- the disposition
The beginning of a theme generally serves to interest the reader, the central part to persuade him, the final part to summarize the topics covered. In carrying out the theme it would be appropriate to produce a brilliant beginning, capable of attracting the reader’s attention and benevolence and elaborating a conclusion that does not leave you in suspense and allows you to take gradual and polite leave from the reader.
In the drafting of the theme, phrases, prejudices and stereotypes should be avoided. It is necessary to question oneself to find out what we really think about the subject to play, which mental associations suggest us, which emotional resonances and which reflections stimulate. Whenever possible, it would be useful to collect material relevant to the topic, consulting dictionaries, encyclopedias, books, magazines, newspapers, films, collections of aphorisms.
The writer must attach great importance to the clarity of the exposition, to the lexical property, to the elegance and to the conciseness. A well done theme must contain the exact number of words needed to express one’s thoughts, not one less, nor one more. Avoid overuse of adverbs and adjectives if possible. Also discard generic expressions, such as those pertaining to verbs saying, giving, doing, more suited to spoken language than to written language, replacing them with more fitting and effective expressions. Finally, beware of repeating words, looking for the most appropriate synonyms. It is important to try to harmonize content and form.
In arranging the arguments we can use paths (such as, for example: “I will begin with the definition. I will continue with the discussion of the characteristics. I will dwell on the causes. Starting with the conclusion I will formulate proposals”), or schemes. For example:
- the journalistic scheme (“Who? What? How? Where? Why?”)
- the dialectical scheme (Thesis, antithesis, synthesis)
- the scheme of the experimental method (starting situation, hypothesis, hypothesis control, verification, results)
In the last phase of text revision, the writer becomes a critical reader of his own text, ready to eliminate imperfections, through additions, deletions and rewritings, in a careful “filing job”.