Is Your Work Coherent?
Age Rating: 7 +
Every now and then, after I've finished a work and am looking it over, it just doesn't seem to be quite right. Something is wrong with it. This also happens, sometimes, when I'm reading the works of others. Usually, but not always, it's because the work isn't:
Okay, so what is that, anyway? And how do I fix it? Is it fixable? We're dealing with poetry and prose here, not automobiles. And is this something to share with other writers?
This is definitely something to share with other writers.
It is generally fixable. We have to know what it is, first, before we can fix it. The definitions below came from three different sources. Each one is slightly different, but they each have a common idea or thought. Coherency is the "glue" that holds your works, and mine, together.
1. Logically connected; consistent: a coherent argument.
2. Cohering; sticking together: a coherent mass of sticky candies.
3. Having a natural or due agreement of parts; harmonious: a coherent design.
1. Sticking together; cohering.
2. Marked by an orderly, logical, and aesthetically consistent relation of parts: a coherent essay.
1. Marked by an orderly, logical, and aesthetically consistent relation of parts; "a coherent argument"
2. Capable of thinking and expressing yourself in a clear and consistent manner; "a lucid thinker"; "she was more coherent than she had been just after the accident"
Okay, so how do I "fix it?"
Look at your work. Does it have a beginning, a middle, and an ending?
Did the beginning lead smoothly into the development of your write--the middle?
Did the ending occur as a result of the development having told the story, or delivering the message, or even just having no where else to go?
From the title, actually, but definitely from the very first line of your work, to the last, they all need to be tied together. They need to be coherent. Even in abstract, or experimental, or spontaneous works; even in a four-line presentation, even in Haiku (3 lines), the piece needs to be coherent.
For example: If the work has a title about the Moon, opens with a statement or vision of roses, then is developed with thoughts of Jello-O, and is ended with lines about a battleship, it probably will not be very coherent. To the reader, at least. It may make perfect sense to the writer, but the writer should remember that the reader won't have the writer's referents.
But, let's try to put these together.
The title gives an image of the Moon. (Full, bright, half, clouded, that's kind of up to you.)
The opening line(s) or stanza, or paragraph takes the reader to thoughts and visions (imagery) of a rose being held in the mooonlight night.
The development creates the thoughts of a loved one gone to war, at sea, and leaves the reader with feelings of trembling like gelatin with fear (The Jello-O. A stretch, granted.).
And the ending lines could give an image of a lonely sailor at sea, on a battleship cruising towards danger, thinking of his lover on this moonlit night.
If the writer can find transitional words and phrases, to carry the reader from the title, into the first opening lines, through the development, and finally, to an ending, the work will become coherent.
There are some techniques and ideas that are beyond the scope of this short article, but which can be very easily explored. They involve using "connective" words or ideas, repetition of lines or phrases for impact and for transitional development, seeing if your work comes "full circle" That is, did the ending in some way, refer to or finalize the beginning? Even if that's done on an emotional level, the result will be a coherent work.
A final example is this short article, itself.
The title gave an idea of what to expect.
The opening defined the problem that was going to be considered in more detail.
The development carried the reader through some of the thoughts I had, that I thought were important, about coherency.
The ending is actually these final lines which have taken us back to the beginning. But it has definitely ended the article. ^_~
I hope this was helpful. ^_^