The 4 “CO” of every Written Composition

On this occasion, I want to take my time to talk about a concept that has been inside my head for several months now. The 4CO, as I wanted to name this idea, are four very important words when it comes to writing, that begin, as we see in the cover image, with “co”.

Cohesion — Coherence — Consistency — Concordance

I do not want to bore you to death with a heavy grammar lesson, but let me introduce this note with something crucial: grammar is essential when writing. It may sound obvious, but I think it’s really important to make this statement.

I want you to understand that I am not asking you to know all grammar rules by heart, but never forget the importance of writing correctly.

The 4CO aren’t only useful for novels, stories and scripts, but also for any type of Written Composition.

Nowadays, a correct spelling and good syntax are essential in the professional world. A Community Manager can’t be a poor writer, a resumé can’t have mistakes, a Linkedin profile can’t be incorrectly written .

Here it is when the 4CO rule comes into play to help us with our writing. Regarding the spelling, well, I can’t help you with that; you’ll have to practice on your own!

For a text to be considered a text as such, it must make Sense. And to achieve this, it must meet two fundamental requirements: Coherence and Cohesion.

Whenever you read something and say “this doesn’t make any sense at all!”, It’s because one of those two concepts is failing.

However, we’re talking about a Composition, and by this I mean a much more complex product than a simple text.

A Written Composition is a narration which has a set of elements that not only include grammatical rules, but also design and format.

Here, the other two CO words come into play: Concordance and Consistency. If we can put all four together, our Composition will have the form and strength we need.

I do not want to scare you with this word that nobody uses in daily life. To clarify its meaning, Cohesion is a synonym of “Connection”. And, oh my, how timely this definition is, since to achieve Cohesion, synonyms are necessary.

We must ensure that the entire Composition is connected, and for this three fundamental elements are used:

  • Synonyms — Not only will we look for words that have similar meanings, but also referential words, lexical groups, and other useful tools. The important thing is to avoid repetition of words.
  • Antonyms — They fulfill a function similar to the synonyms, but conversely, of course.
  • Connectors — Connectors are conjunctions, adverbs, expressions or sets of words that help establish a logical relationship between two sentences or statements.

For a story to be coherent, all your ideas, phrases and concepts must be functional to a Theme or Topic.

There are two types of Coherence:

  • Global — It establishes the need for a general theme, and the entire text (or Composition, in this case) revolves around said theme and always refers to it.
  • Local — It establishes the need for a logical order, a sequence of organized ideas to follow the purport of the text step by step.

Regardless of their definitions, both show us the importance of the Topic.

Allow me to say, this item is very different in Spanish than in English. However, in both languages, it’s crucial to handle a propper Concordance when writing a Composition.

Concordance is better known as Agreement, with two different types: subject-verb agreement and noun-pronoun agreement.

Subject-Verb refers to the link between the action and the one who performs it. The verb must always agree with its subject.

  • You can’t state that He work; they has a job (for you English speakers, Agreement is a walk in the park… subject-verb agreement in Spanish is a true nightmare!)

Noun-Pronoun refers to the replacement between a word or group of words and another word, specifically a pronoun. The replacement must agree both in number and in gender.

  • You can’t say that The man opened her own house; instead, the correct form would be The man opened his own house.

Cohesion, in this sense, will help to the Concordance.

Verbal tenses are also extremely important; be careful when changing the verbal tense!

This is another aspect of the Composition form, which combines design, format and narration elements. Three fundamental notions help with good Consistency:

  • Narrator — Choosing a narrator, and keeping it throughout the text, is crucial for the text to be Consistent. If there’s a narrator change, it must be evident and follow a certain structure. In my experience, in academic texts this aspect is fundamental.
  • Voice — The voice with which a text is narrated must be maintained throughout the Composition. If you are using a simple language, don’t use complicated or rare words, and vice versa. Don’t use a formal language and then switch to idioms or regionalisms.
  • Hierarchy — In a Composition, the hierarchy is important. If titles, subtitles and other types of separators are used, a standardization in the format is a must: all subtitles must be the same, all titles must maintain the same structure, etc. Another example of a hierarchy is the format used for words: if certain types of words are in bold, the format must be repeated to guide the reader.

Consistency helps the reader understand how he should read the Composition. If, for example, all words in another language are written in italics, readers will understand immediately when they are in the presence of another language.

Sometimes, technical and grammar rules tend to bore a little bit. But to me, this is not the case. Maybe it’s because I’m a grammar lover, which is no secret!

What I want to add is that the 4CO are not a universal law that everyone should follow to the letter, but a set of general guidelines to help us write better.

They aren’t rules, but simple and very useful set of tools that contribute to the development of a good Written Composition.

High Fantasy and Crime Fiction Writer. I love writing. I love Warcraft games. I love pasta.

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