Revising with Williams

Description of BIO 110 – Introductory Biology I from the 2011 EMU Online Course Catalog:

 “The basic concepts of biology upon which students can begin to develop a conceptual framework of the discipline will be developed in this course and reinforced in upper-level courses. Cell structure and function, molecular biology, Mendelian and population genetics, evolutionary theory and ecology will be covered in this first semester of a two-semester sequence. Inquiry-oriented laboratory exercises and inquiry-oriented methods will be emphasized in lecture and discussion sections.”

My revision applying advice from Williams:

In BIO 110, students will be provided with basic concepts of biology. Those concepts, which are developed in this course and expanded in later courses, will enable students to create a conceptual framework of Biology. This framework consists of cell structure and function, molecular biology, population genetics (including Mendelian), evolutionary theory, and ecology. These subjects will be covered, emphasized in lectures and discussions, through inquiry-oriented laboratory exercises. 


Editing this passage, I focused on Clarity, Cohesion, and Coherence. These elements are lacking in the description of the BIO 110 course, and because of that, the passage is unclear and “turgid.” I don’t know why anyone would want to take the BIO 110 course by its description in the first passage (or why they would want to take it at all, but that is beside the point).

 By changing nominalizations to verbs, the second passage does not “merely… state that an action exists,” but “express[es] action” (30). Action then fits the subjects in the second passage. Changed from the first passage, those subjects represent the students who may take the course and the course itself.

 Cohesion did not exist in the first passage; each sentence jumped from one topic to another with no real “flow.” To create flow, Williams says to “use the beginning of your sentences to refer to what you have already mentioned” and “move complex information to the end of your sentence” (64, 65). This was partially done by moving and changing the subjects and verbs. Beyond that, I had to find connections between the information in the sentences from the first paragraph to create a paragraph that would flow.

 Going along with Cohesion, the first paragraph was lacking Coherence. Coherence is created by an “issue,” which is the “introductory segment,” followed by the “discussion,” which is the development of the issue (92). If the discussion does not fit the issue, then there is a problem. To create Cohesion in the first paragraph, I edited it using principles of Clarity and Cohesion, but also had to make sure that there was an “issue.” To do that, I had to edit out a sentence, and change quite a bit around.


Williams, Joseph. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. United States of America: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1990. Print


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