Moving From Known (Old) Information to Unknown (New) Information
Strategy 2—Using Repetition of the Topic to Refer to the Known
Let’s review the following passage and observe the inconsistencies in the order of known and new information.
Chocolate does more than just taste good—it has physiological effects. Spurts of energy are provided by caffeine, which is contained in chocolate. A sense of relaxation and comfort is caused by endorphins that it releases. A cannaboid, when consumed in very large quantities, can lead to altered states of consciousness.
The first sentence establishes the topic of chocolate, thereby making it known information. It then moves on to newer information by saying that “it” has physiological effects, which then becomes additional known information. However, the second sentence begins with new information about spurts of energy that are caused by caffeine. The reader has to get all the way to the end of the sentence to figure out that the author is still discussing chocolate. A similar situation takes places in the third and fourth sentences as well.
Here’s a revised version of the passage:
Chocolate does more than just taste good—it has physiological effects. Chocolate contains caffeine, which provides spurts of energy. It releases endorphins, which create a sense of relaxation and comfort. Chocolate also contains a cannaboid which, when consumed in very large quantities, can lead to altered states of consciousness.
The author takes full advantage of known-to-new organization in the revised paragraph above. The reader can now smoothly follow the author’s ideas and move from the beginning to the end of each sentence without having to stop and think. It is clear at the beginning of each sentence that the author is talking about chocolate, and the latter halves of all the sentences contain the new information.
Copyright 2006 by the Student Success Center and the University of Houston-Victoria.
Created 2006 by Kelli Trungale.