Enlivening Closed-Form Prose
with Open-Form Elements

The following paragraph comes from a student argument opposing women’s serving on submarines:

Not only would it be very expensive to refit submarines for women personnel, but having women on submarines would hurt the morale of the sailors. In order for a crew to work effectively, they must have good morale or their discontent begins to show through their performance. This is especially crucial on submarines, where if any problem occurs, it affects the safety of the whole ship. Women would hurt morale by creating sexual tension. Sexual tension can take many forms. One form is couples’ working and living in a close space with all of the crew. When a problem occurs within the relationship, it could affect the morale of those directly involved and in the workplace. This would also occur if one of the women became pregnant or if there were complaints of sexual harassment. It would be easier to deal with these problems on a surface ship, but int he small confines of a submarine these problems would cause more trouble.

Enliven the paragraph using some of the techniques of the Time-Life writers. Those techniques include: writing low on the scale of abstraction, adding in dramatic scenes or “nuggets,” and delaying critical information for dramatic effect.

This Writing Exercise appears on page 299 of The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing.

Page Last Updated: 24 August 2014