A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 290: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 13

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series
here.


The following chapter, “Aslevjal,” begins with an in-milieu comment from Fedwren about Forging. It turns thence to the approach to the titular island and to the Fool who waits upon it for the Six Duchies’ party to arrive. Fitz is tasked with assisting Thick, Chade contriving thus to keep Fitz and the Fool apart. Ships are unloaded and camps set up, the voyagers’ arrangements described.

Remember these?
Source in image and here, used for commentary.

Taking advantage of Riddle’s offer to attend to Thick for a while, Fitz, scouts out the campground, noting the presence of memory stone in the area, as well as signs of work done upon it and with it. He finds a partly-sculpted stone dragon and summons Chade and Dutiful to examine it; Akron remarks that it is not the dragon they seek, but “one of the Pale Woman’s follies,” before Peottre silences him.

After, Fitz confers with Chade and Dutiful via the Skill about the Fool, and Fitz is charged with caution as he gathers more information. The memory stone receives more examination, and Fitz perceives a number of memories contained within it, linking the work done on Aslevjal’s shores to the work Verity and others had done carving their dragons. Fitz notes the problems that would inhere in a dragon thus made, and he reports his findings to Chade, who considers a strange repatriation.

Fitz returns to Thick, who asks for honey. Fitz takes the opportunity to call on the Fool, visiting the Fool’s tent and finding it empty; he avails himself of the honey he finds there, being sure to leave clear sign of his presence so as not to present himself as attempting deceit. Returning with the honey mollifies Thick, and he notes to Fitz Nettle’s anger at him, spurred by Burrich’s departure and her own obliged relocation to Kettricken’s court. The news offers Fitz some comfort, although he frets somewhat as he muses on his daughter’s situation and his own.

From the vantage of rereading, I can affirm the foreshadowing in the present chapter; there are signs here of what is to come. Even among them, though, I find links back to earlier parts of the Realm of the Elderlings series that I appreciate; I noted to students when I had them, and I reaffirm in the lesson plans I write for contract work, that one of the things that argues in favor of artistic quality is the way a given work hangs together. It’s not much of a stretch, if any at all, to read a series of novels as a single work rather than as separate entities (particularly as concerns fantasy literature in the Tolkienian tradition, which the Realm of the Elderlings is despite making abundant use of other sources and backgrounds). As such, it is not out of line to apply the same artistic standards to a series as to an entry in it–not obligatory, certainly, and not without the caveat, for logical and other reasons (I am aware of the fallacy of composition, thank you), that some parts can be better than others, but not impossibly or even without good cause. And the work done to unify the Realm of the Elderlings novels as they proceed, although not without flaw, helps with that. At least for me, anyway…

Toss a coin to your scholar?

Greener Fields, Revised

I thought to tread new fields where bulldogs frolic
Growling gladly as they gallop with their
Jowls flinging drool at every step and
Shaking their heads in mock anger that will
Soon grow all too real
So lush
Watered by youthful sprays refreshed
With every season and its new hopes and by
Just as much shit spread thickly
Pounded in by passing feet
And I left the scrappy stands of oaks and cedars and mesquites
Rising from the thin soil
Perched precariously atop the limestone hills
Mildewing where they have been shorn away
Graves of the dead
Gone so long they do not matter anymore
Any names they had long since lost to themselves
Never known by after-comers
And I came late upon them
Stalked away from where I should have bounded
Four-point buck that I once was
And very much in rut throughout the year
Even if no one took the point I presented
I meant to graze upon that green
The many leaves feeding me
More than I would have found where I was
As I see clearly looking back
And looking back
And looking back
Where gold limns the cerulean above and
Bluebonnets below
Sometimes
Good times
That I know I will not see again
But my belly is empty now
As the fawn spotted beside the flinty stream
Looking up at where eagles soar
Bounces dancing up to marble falls
And that will have to be enough

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I’m happy to consult with you about your writing needs; check out what I do here, and drop me a line to let me know what you need below:

Or you can simply send a little love my way!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 289: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 12

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series
here.


The next chapter, “Cousins,” offers a snippet of translated in-milieu verse before moving to the continued progress of Dutiful’s errand. Political arrangements are noted, and preparations are made to depart Wuislington for Zylig. They include drugging Thick and bringing him aboard ship unconscious, which results in a substantial upset when he wakes, as well as Fitz’s shame. He reports as much and makes his recommendations regarding Thick to Chade and Dutiful when he reports to them aboard ship while they are underway. And he finds himself the object of Dutiful’s anger.

Dutiful demands from Fitz the truth about Nettle. Asked bluntly by his prince, Fitz answers as openly and honestly as he can, Chade exulting in the revelation and noting his own objection to the arrangements that had been made. Dutiful upbraids both Chade and Fitz for their parts in the deception, but he agrees that Fitz should be the one to inform Nettle of her origins. Discussion continues, Fitz and Chade falling into open and pragmatic discussions that scandalize Dutiful, and the conversation soon draws to a close.

After, Fitz checks up on Thick, finding himself subjected to the other man’s ire through the Skill, and he surveys the other passengers on their ship. Later, he tries to contact Nettle through the Skill, failing to do so and suffering for the remainder of the trip to Zylig.

Once in port, Fitz goes to work gathering information, gaining a general sense of the situation Dutiful’s party faces. The question of Thick arises again, and Fitz learns that the Six Duchies delegation that had remained in Zylig had done well for itself. He also learns the terms on which the Hetgurd agrees to allow the challenge of Aslevjal to take place as he and Chade confer. The next morning, though, sees more trouble from Thick as the party makes to depart for Aslevjal, and Web notes in an idle aside to Fitz that he has sent Swift to retrieve Thick as a sort of test of his ability in the Wit. Web offers once again, a final time, to teach Fitz, as well, and Fitz is dilatory in availing himself of it as the voyage gets underway.

At length, the party arrives at Aslevjal, which is described–and the Fool awaits them on the shore.

As I reread the chapter this time, I found Web’s comments about Fitz not finding time to learn more of the Wit resonant. I am not possessed of any magics, certainly, nor of any particular power or importance. Even so, there seems always to be some task or another to which I can devote my attention, to which I should devote it, and they all seem to get in the way of something else. I know that something else is important, certainly, and I know I ought to attend to it. At the same time, the tasks that present themselves to me are ones that need doing, and it is easy to set aside the nebulous for the concrete.

All too easy, in fact.

Care to send a little something my way?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 288: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 11

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The succeeding chapter, “Wuislington,” opens with commentary about Outisland social structures from Fedwren before turning to Fitz’s gloss of Dutiful’s party’s stay in Wuislington. He notes Thick’s convalescence and displeasure with him, which Chade notes he must endure. He notes, too, his continued tutelage of Swift, as well as the omnipresence of observation, And he notes a strange camaraderie growing between himself and Peottre over their mutual work to chaperone Dutiful and Elliania.

Something not unlike this…
Coniston Water by Mick Garratt is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Fitz also becomes aware of the agricultural underpinning of the Narwhal Clan’s wealth, the geography that enables it described in some detail. But as he follows Dutiful and Elliania on an excursion out into that farming country, he uncovers Henja spying on the pair, though he cannot pursue her. It informs his report to Chade later, as well as their discussion.

That night, Fitz is drawn into a dream where Nettle and Tintaglia confer. The dragon demands information from him, but Nettle manages to cast the dragon out of her dream and chides Fitz for his timorousness. Dutiful interrupts via the Skill, but he is also cast aside after a heated exchange through that magic. Nettle absents Fitz from her dream, as well, and he wakes suddenly to Dutiful’s insistent Skilling; the prince is angry at having Nettle concealed from him, and summons Fitz to account.

When Fitz, Thick trailing, answers the summons, he finds himself bidden through the Skill to stand and wait. He watches Dutiful and Elliania confer about sex until they are interrupted by Peottre. Peottre dismisses the Narcheska, and Dutiful expounds his situation to him, earning some respect from Elliania’s uncle. The exchange leaves Fitz and Thick both homesick, though Fitz knows the home he seeks no longer exists.

Dutiful’s comment that “I am a man but…I am a man” has long resonated with me. Reading it now, I acknowledge the heteronormativity in the comment, but I also note the clear tensions under which Dutiful operates. I have been an allosexual teenage boy, and though it was many years ago, it was not so many years ago that I do not recall the discomfort of its associated urges–or the tensions surrounding multiple ideas of what should be. And I have to wonder if that is not somehow an indication of the expected primary (or perhaps secondary) readership of the series, that it does depict such things as it does, and from the perspectives that it does. Yet another paper project idea that I may never develop…seems I have a lot of those, really. Too many.

I’d appreciate your support–no fooling!

On the Loss of Something Like an Office Space

I wrote about my current writing space not too long ago, and I’d noted before that that I’d done a fair bit of writing sitting in the front seat of a 2012 Ford Focus as my daughter, Ms. 8, practiced tap, jazz, and cheer. While it might have been the case that I’d not done much writing in the latter location for a while, I’d still been spending a fair bit of time in that front seat, and I’d anticipated getting to do so for a while yet, perhaps even returning to writing from there. Alas, such is not to be!

It is what it looks like. Picture is mine.

On 10 March 2022, as I was driving from Johnson City to Kerrville, I went through Fredericksburg, Texas. It’s a common enough thing, and Friendship Lane had been a road I’d often taken on that route; it was not a strange thing, then, that I did so again. Nor was it terribly unusual that there was a truck pulling a trailer along that road, nor yet that such a truck might slow down and signal that it was going to turn right onto South Milam from Friendship, moving from the through-street onto one that had a stop sign at the intersection. Nor still was it strange that a car–say, a red 2012 Ford Focus–would signal a lane-change and move into the left lane to pass the slowing vehicle, as was indeed what happened between 8 and 8:15 that morning.

It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence that a white Toyota 4Runner had been stopped at the stop sign on South Milam where it Ts into Friendship Lane, while the latter has no signs and remains a through street at that location. Nor was it uncommon that said 4Runner signaled a left turn, meaning to pull out from the stop sign onto the through street, and, its driver seeing that no traffic was coming from the right and that the truck coming from the left was slowing and signaling for its own turn, began to make that left turn. And perhaps it was not too uncommon a thing that a small car would be hidden from view by a larger vehicle pulling a trailed.

It was damned unusual, though, that the 4Runner suddenly emerged into oncoming traffic from a signed stop, and that said oncoming traffic–a red 2012 Ford Focus–could not stop in time to keep from hitting the 4Runner. The latter vehicle suffered some minor damage to its driver’s side, behind both doors on that side; it was driven off to a nearby parking lot, where its driver was cited for failure to yield the right of way. The former vehicle, however…the picture tells the story.

Its driver ended up being alright. Despite a trip to the local emergency room, the extent of injury to that driver was some minor bruising where the seatbelt had done its job. But the car…as of this writing, the insurance report is still forthcoming, but a car isn’t going to do well without a front end or a cooling system. It’s the kind of thing that prompts the word “total,” really–which is a damned shame. I’d liked not having a car payment…

I’m going to need a new car. Let me know what all you need written below, and we’ll talk about what I can do for you to help me get that–or you can send along your support!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 287: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 10

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The following chapter, “The Narcheska,” opens with an in-milieu discourse on social structures. It turns thence to a detailed description of the Narwhal mothershouse as Fitz and Swift are admitted. Those already in attendance are described in brief, and Fitz marks the absence of Elliania among them. An elderly woman, the Great Mother, is brought out and surveys matters before making several sharp remarks and showing the effects of age upon her. Elliania emerges at that point, taking charge of the situation and noting, after the Great Mother has been taken away, that she is newly come to menarche. Ritual greetings follow, commendations from the other Narwhal women.

The woman of the hour.
Image is from here, used for commentary.

Following that ceremony, another begins that reaffirms the betrothal of Elliania and Dutiful. Dutiful betrays some confusion through the Skill as the assembled Outislanders celebrate, and a feast is brought in as a formal presentation is done, and Fitz observes, starting somewhat as something of a shivaree takes Dutiful. Fitz surreptitiously pursues and finds the event in progress, centering on Elliania rather than on Dutiful, and she acquits herself admirably. In the wake of it, FItz and Chade confer through the Skill, Dutiful being somewhat addled by his own exchange with Elliania.

At length, celebrations wind down, and Fitz makes his way back to his quarters, conferring with Swift and Web along the way. As Fitz enters, he notes Riddle in attendance on Thick, as well as a “robber-rat,” which is described. Swift evidently attempts to form a Wit-bond with the creature, earning a rare rebuke from Web and a dismissal. Riddle’s following question allows for some explication, and Fitz finds himself ill at ease with what might have been.

The “robber-rat” in the chapter is part of why I argue for the North American sourcing of the Elderlings milieu. The description seems to me nothing so much as a raccoon, an animal of North America. It’s not the only piece of evidence, of course, but it is one that comes to mind, given the chapter.

More important is the warning occasioned by Swift’s incaution. The Elderlings corpus repeatedly inveighs against the Old Blood bonding too early or too deeply with their animal companions, Fitz remarking no few times that his co-being with Nighteyes was far more thorough than that experienced by other Wit-users. It occasioned problems for him in his youth, certainly, and continues to be a source of tension in such relationships with others of the Old Blood that he has. That Swift is warned away from it–but not away from the experience of the Wit itself–is perhaps a generational marker; he receives much the same instruction as Fitz in his youth, but his later teaching is done more thoroughly and with greater understanding. I would not presume to trace out social parallels, myself; I am concerned that my doing so would suffer from my own lack of embedded knowledge (and well studied as I may or may not be, there is a value to that embedded knowledge that no amount of book-learning can replace, even as no amount of direct experience with a thing can give the kind of perspective that outside study does; both are needed). But I think it would be a useful avenue of inquiry.

I’d be happy to have your sponsorship and support!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 286: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 9

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

TW: Sexual assault, ableist language.


The next chapter, “Mothershouse,” opens with an in-milieu “cautionary tale” before moving to the continued progress of Dutiful’s party through the Outislands. The disentanglement from Zylig is detailed, as is the ship–the Tusker–on which Dutiful and his company will sail to Elliania’s home. So is Thick’s resistance to boarding the Outislander ship, as well as Web’s assistance with him, and Fitz marvels at Web’s use of the Wit to calm and lead Thick. Web confers with him afterward, and Fitz attempts, not entirely successfully, to deflect the older man’s questions.

A vision of Cockle, perhaps?
Image from here, used for commentary.

After, Fitz attempts to comfort Thick with the Skill, finding even less success, and is greeted in that magic by Nettle. She successfully helps Thick, and she notes Burrich’s strange behavior, from which Fitz realizes his foster-father has conferred at some length with the Fool. Burrich’s reported words strike Fitz, and he admits to Nettle that he bears the name Changer.

Following the Skilling and Thick being settled, Fitz attends to Swift, bidding him join in listening to Cockle’s songs and prompting a pleasantly polite exchange between himself and the minstrel. Cockle sings several songs of which Fitz approves, and Fitz listens as one of the Outisland crew sings, roughly, in return, declaiming a song about “the Black Man of Aslevjal.” Peottre tensely quashes further entertainment from the crew, and the journey proceeds. Web and Fitz confer about Thick as the Tusker approaches Wuislington, Elliania’s home, and puts in, received by the Narwhal Clan.

Formal greetings are exchanged, with Fitz becoming aware of ritual importance behind them, and Dutiful’s party begins to be billeted. Thick and Fitz are housed together, apart from others, and Fitz notes the reasons for and difficulties surrounding the arrangement. Web, bringing Swift, assists, and Fitz has time to mull over his situation before they return with provisions. Fitz is summoned to attend on Chade and Dutiful in the mothershouse, the central fortified dwelling of the women of the Narwhal Clan, and makes to report, along with Swift.

As I reread the chapter this time, the casual ableism at play strikes me. It’s come up in regards to Thick before; his very name, if it is his name, can be read as an instantiation of it, and I’ve called attention to it once or twice before. Fitz seems to be doing better at it at present, although I do still get the idea from him that it is only because he has access to Thick through the Skill–and even that, as I think on it, bespeaks some tokenism / disability superpower mentality. It’s an uncomfortable thing, to be sure, and I’m not sure how to regard it as I read right now–though I do keep in mind that a large part of Hobb’s verisimilitude is precisely in presenting characters who are flawed, who have bad ideas, and I well recall that what a character thinks and does is not necessarily a reflection of the author. Yes, writers can only write what they know, but one can observe a belief without sharing it, and the world provides no dearth of examples of wrongheaded beliefs.

More’s the pity.

Any support you can send my way will be welcome!

Welcome, Once Again, to Elliott RWI

It’s been quite a while since I last updated my landing page, and a fair number of things have changed since then. More details are in my bio, linked below, and something of a table of contents for this webspace appears, well, right down there, too:

So you know what you’re getting…
Image is mine, severally.

I’m happy to take commissions for various kinds of writing and related work. Some more detailed information about the kinds of things I can do is here, but I’m happy to confer with you about your needs via the form below. And I am always happy to accept your generous support.

Proud member of Freelancers Union

Some Notes about Organization

As with a couple of previous posts (here and here), the present post is lightly adapted from teaching materials I’d posted online back when I still had students. I offer it here in the hopes that some will find it useful.

The writing that typically gets labeled as “argumentative” in classrooms serves to present a central idea–a thesis–and to support that idea through the provision of explained evidence. The way in which the evidence is provided can serve to ease its acceptance by readers, helping them to understand what is being given to them and ordering it such that the individual effect of each piece of evidence is amplified. At the paragraph and whole-paper levels, then, what order materials appear matters–as does the way in which the paper moves among those materials. What follows offers some discussion of such concerns.

To ease navigation, the following:

Organization matters, in writing as in any other task.
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Paragraph Organization

Paragraphs are the basic organizational units of prose writing (although they are typically composite constructions), presenting and supporting ideas that further the governing concept of the piece of writing being done. In the context of an academic essay, paragraphs present ideas that inform the thesis, as well as supporting information and explanation for it. This is true whether the paragraph is introductory, in the body, or concluding.

Introductory paragraphs, as the name implies, serve to lead the reader into the essay. While longer pieces can–and should and do–have multiple-paragraph introductions, the kinds of essays asked of first-year college writing typically will not; they will usually be of such a length as will only admit of one such paragraph. One useful model for such paragraphs is

  • The Hook
  • Text
  • The Thesis
  • Essay Map

The hook is a statement or series of statements intended to command reader attention–to begin the pathos appeal necessary for effective persuasion and argument. It is, admittedly, optional; some situations create the attention and appeal through their nature. But for most argumentation, there has to be some reason for readers to keep reading, and the hook offers that initial reason. Techniques for effectively developing attention vary; which are deployed say much about the presumed audience of a piece, as well as about its expected context of use.

The text that follows the hook will tend to lead towards the central point of the paper, and it will generally do so by offering context for disucssion. That is, it will clarify the topic being treated and the angle of approach to that topic (perhaps giving a review of the most recent extant literature on the topic and/or outlining in summary form a tertiary source that informs the approach). In effect, it bridges the gap between the hook and what follows, helping readers position themselves to make sense of what is to come.

The thesis is as it is in other discussions. It is the central idea of the paper, the point of it, the thing to which the rest of the work is servant and support. Traditionally, it appears at or near the end of the introduction, where it can be seen easily and serve as a guide for the reading (and writing!) to come.

The essay map is an optional inclusion in a shorter essay such as first-year writing classes will usually request. It is what the name suggests: a map of the essay to come. That is, it lays out the major argumentative points in the order that they are made in the paper. Done well, it eases reading; readers know what to expect and when, and they can therefore follow the writing more easily. Done poorly, it undermines ethos; deviating from the map is, in effect, lying to the reader, and a writer who lies once may well do so again.

Body paragraphs serve to provide the information that supports the thesis, as well as to explain that information such that readers can make sense of it. (They are the focus of the section on paper organization, below.) They will constitute the bulk of the paper–not a simple majority, but an overwhelming proportion. They will also need to strike a balance between enough heft to be credible and enough brevity to be scannable–and how long they are therefore will vary by topic, thesis, and intended audience.

One useful model for such paragraphs is

  • Transition into the
  • Main Idea
  • Evidence Supporting the Main Idea
  • Explanation of How the Evidence Supports the Main Idea
  • Explanation of How the Main Idea Supports the Thesis

That is, a body paragraph will usefully open by indicating its relationship to what precedes it (about which more below). It will then do well to present its own main idea, followed by evidence that supports it informationally tagged. Something like “For example,” or “Other researchers have commented to that effect” might work. The evidence will need to be explained, however; it does not stand on its own, but must be acted upon to be of any value. And its relevance to the greater topic of the paper must be demonstrated; readers should not be asked to guess at it.

Concluding paragraphs, as the name implies, serve to lead the reader out of the essay. A commonplace method for drafting them is to return to the device of the hook–although not all such devices lend themselves to such treatment. Another, one that works far better in speech than in print (for shorter works), is to reiterate the argumentative structure. Still another, and one that works well in speech and in print, is to trace implications forward, to articulate the “so what?” that any work of research produces. How the reader can use the thesis, now that it has been validated by the paper, merits consideration–and it offers a good way to get the reader back into the wider world.

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Paper Organization

How the paragraphs in the body of the essay are laid out can serve to make the reader’s task of understanding easier, as well as to align to audience expectations and to enhance the effects of the information presented within them. Conversely, the order can serve to confuse the reader, leading from one idea to another in no pattern or one that does not make sense. Part of eliminating that confusion derives from appropriate use of transitions, as discussed below, but more of it comes from the effective ordering of paragraphs within the essay.

There are a number of orders in which paragraphs, within the body and extending outside it, can array themselves. Some of the more notable are

  • Chronological
  • Emphatic
  • IMRaD
  • Problem/Solution

There are, others, as well, the discussion of which exceeds what may be given here.

Chronological order is exactly what it sounds like; it orders points of argument by their occurrence in time. What happens first gets discussed first; second, second; and so on. It has the advantage of being easy to understand; it has the disadvantages of being somewhat flat and of not necessarily foregrounding what is best to foreground.

It also has a useful variant: reverse chronological order. It, too, is what it sounds like; it begins at the end and works back to the beginning. Its chief utility is in causal work, since cause must precede effect.

Emphatic order is the traditional rhetorical order that is taught in schools. It puts the weakest point of argument first; each successive point is stronger, until the last is the strongest. (Relative strength is usually determined by the amount of evidence available to support a point. Some exceptions will apply, but they exceed the scope of this discussion.) It has the advantages of being conventional and of promoting excellent forward momentum. It has the disadvantage of demanding that the readership remain reading for the whole paper–and not all readers will.

As such, a variant of the traditional rhetorical order is available: journalistic or executive summary order. It works in reverse of the traditional order, putting the strongest point first so that it is taken in and understood. The advantage is clear: readers get the strongest point. Those who will remain, however, may feel let down, and negotiating transitions among points can be a challenge.

Another variant, which may be called mixed emphatic order, can be applied to slightly longer papers. In it, the second-strongest point is presented first, then the weakest, and following points grow successively stronger, until the strongest is presented last. Readers who have to leave early still get a solid point; those who remain are rewarded with forward momentum and the traditionally satisfying conclusion. But the order does demand a longer paper; three points will not sustain it, and five will only barely do so.

IMRaD order is common in social and other sciences. In moving through an introduction (that lays out the topic, recent literature treating it, the gaps in that literature, and the current project), methodology (how the project seeks to do its work), results (what the methods produced), and discussion (what the results mean and what implications they have), the IMRaD model is easy to understand and applies well to reports of experiments and other empirical research. Not all interpretive work applies to such research, however, so it is not universally applicable.

Problem/Solution order is also a common pattern. Papers written in it will establish what problem is to be addressed, why it is a problem, and for whom it is a problem. Afterwards, they will address what solution is best for that group to pursue or have pursued by others, articulating why that solution is best (likely incorporating alternatives and noting why they do not work as well as might be hoped). Like IMRaD and chronology, it is easily understood, but, as with IMRaD, problem/solution patterns do not work for all inquiries.

Always, the purpose being addressed and the audience with whom it is addressed must be kept in mind. They should determine what pattern should be deployed, since it is their needs that must be met for effective argument.

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It can be fun and easy to move from one thing to the next.
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

Transitions

Moving from one point to another, and even from one sentence to another, can be jarring for readers. They are asked by the act of reading a new thing to take in and process a new idea, and if they are not moved smoothly between them, they may not be able to folow–or to follow well. It is therefore important to clearly indicate how what happens in the text’s now relates to what it follows–and that indication comes about through effective use of transitional devices.

Such devices need not be complicated; indeed, many follow predictable patterns or can be made to do so. Some examples include

  • Additive (indicating that a new point is added on, more useful as something to mix into other patterns than as a primary pattern in itself): One, Another, Yet another, Still another, A final; One, A further, Yet a further, Still a further, A final; One, An additional, etc.; Also; Too; In addition; Moreover
  • Chronological: First, Next, Then, After, Last; First, Second, Third, etc.; explicit time/date indications
  • Spatial (useful more within descriptive paragraphs than as a primary organizing principle for a paper): Top to bottom, left to right / right to left, front to back, outside in / inside out, best-side to beast-side / east to west, north to south
  • Causal: Thus, Hence, Therefore, As a result, Consequently, Ergo, So
  • Contrastive (useful to introduce counter-argument and rebuttal, as well as to argue against ideas or to set up an argument): But, Yet, Rather, Instead, Divergently, In contrast, However
  • Emphatic: One, A stronger, A yet stronger, A still stronger, Strongest; One, More important, Yet more important, Still more important, Most important; One, A better, A yet better, A still better, Best

Others are available, of course, and it is important to keep in mind that, although pattern-building is useful, over-reliance on any one pattern of transition will bore the reader. Readerly boredom is unhelpful; break the pattern to emphasize what needs emphasis, but keep it to ease the reader along. The juxtaposition of the two could be quite productive, indeed.

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I’d be happy to put my talents to work for you; let me know what all you need written, and we’ll talk!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 285: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 8

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The succeeding chapter, “The Hetgurd,” opens with an Outisland creation narrative. It moves on to the arrival of Dutiful’s company in Zylig, a port in the Outislands. Riddle assists Fitz in seeing to Thick and his own preparations, and their approach to the town is detailed. So is the town itself as Fitz and Thick catch up to the rest of their group while Dutiful accepts the greetings of the Hetgurd. Fitz and Thick are shown to their lodgings, their progress through the town detailed and their surroundings described.

The current scene…
Winterkeep’s Map of the Outislands, from Hobb’s universe on DeviantArt, used for commentary.

Fitz gets food into Thick and eats, himself, then scouts out their lodgings. He slips into the initial meeting between Dutiful and the Hetgurd–a group composed of the various clans’ warleaders, or “kaempra.” Riddle briefs him on the limited happenings thus far, and Fitz turns his attentions to the ongoing discussion, in which the kaempra press Dutiful about his intended dragon-slaying, and he responds to their concerns. Dutiful, Chade, and Fitz exchange ideas via the Skill, and they use that magic to convince the kaempra to adjourn discussion, allowing them time to confer.

The conference comes swiftly, Dutiful and Fitz informing each other what they know and have figured out. Chade offers some rebuke to Fitz before they are interrupted by the arrival of Peottre Blackwater, who notes some political tensions and offers a means for resolving them. Chade takes over the conversation with Peottre, to some annoyance on Dutiful’s part, and arrangements are made at some length.

The Hetgurd and the kaempra who compose it factor heavily into the reading and interpretation I had originally had of the Out Islands (and I note the frustration of the term in the present chapter as previously) as analogous to the Vikings in popular–and some medieval–conception, one I realized at an inconvenient moment was not as accurate as the understanding that later emerged for me. They’re not the only such things, for example, but they do much, for reasons I explain. And as I reread the chapter, I am minded of other associations, having read Njal’s Saga relatively recently. I am not convinced to return back to my earlier idea, but I am, at least, satisfied that I had decent reason to think what I used to think.

There is some comfort in having been wrong for the right reason.

I continue to appreciate your support!