Notes on Full Circle Shape -- A Never  (completely) Ending Story

     When we tell a friend about an event or issue in conversation, that account usually "comes out"  with the main idea pretty clearly said and the details or explanation virtually arranging themselves, as our minds make the connections, naturally.
     In writing an account or telling about an event or idea, our minds work in a similar, if slightly less spontaneous way. Free writing, loop writing or other brainstorming (On Brainstorming) can help loosen up the flow of ideas, so we can find, choose and shape the main elements.  Knowing where a piece of writing starts and where it ends is not as easy as we might think, at first. The common element the writer sees in unfinished work may be very clear in a part 6 of the loop. But if a starting place is not so evident, we may have to look to the writing itself--the content, meaning or point--as a guide to those decisions. 
     Something to be especially alert for is even one thing, idea, element, etc. that repeats itself, at least once, and seems to link to what the next step in the account might be. When we have an idea of what in a draft or free-writing might serve these functions, (i.e., recurring theme/element) then we can say we're working toward a "full circle." Events in life often seem to make a full circle when a problem is solved or a goal reached. Full circle writing, then, ends in some way "near" where it began or resolves the issue or question. A full circle line follows a thread of continuity, like drawing a cursive, that closes the circle and can even lead the "line of thought," (like the tail of the) etc. toward a next step or "stage" in that issue or idea.
     As Leslie Marmon Silko writes in "Language and Literature From a Pueblo Indian Perspective", " story [or grouping of ideas] is only the beginning of many stories."  She discusses the Native American view that "stories never truly end," that every story contains many others, how the listener [reader] must trust that meaning will be made, and how meaning actually resides in the listener/reader. These concepts may seem at odds with a conventional "western" five-paragraph format, which, course, does have distinct communicative value. However, exploring an idea in a free write, loop, or collage can open up thinking in a very useful and interesting way for both writer and reader--AND, maybe most important, can stimulate fresh thinking about the topic. When we can see that even seemingly unrelated material can be (is) held together by common elements as well as structure, the notion of the complete circle of thought may actually seem natural. Lenses is an excellent example of tracking a focus, full circle.
     We can also picture this full circle writing as a sort of three-dimensional spiral. Reaching the point in the "upward orbit" where we began is always similar, but quite a different place of understanding, This well known quotation reminds us of the value of these kinds of circular and spiral ways of finding meaning:
    We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.   T. S. Eliot - Little Gidding, from Four Quartets
     What I hope this image of a full circle will also instill for essays, accounts, etc. is that virtually all writing can be shaped as a full circle and, in fact, must be, in order for the ideas to get through as a set of unified thoughts or elements. The five paragraph essay (see below) is also a full circle, but with simply a more building block kind of form.

The Five-Paragraph Essay is a common straightforward method for writing a basic essay, that  consists of 1) an introductory paragraph containing the main idea (thesis sentence) 2) three body paragraphs, each explaining a reason (and maybe evidence) to prove the main idea  (the 3rd may include discussion of opposing views) and 3) a conclusion that restates/echoes the main idea/thesis. Clearly the structure of the paragraph must be understood before composing a group of them. Please review what makes a paragraph: OWL on the Paragraph |

     copyright - Jane Thielsen 2011 all rights reserved