Using theory to help structure what I’m writing

The writing continues and I’m in danger of losing the sense of structure and storyline. I’m also anxious that parts of it are making no sense. I move some things to different places and even split some chapters into two. Finding new headings and subheadings really does work to fix the themes. The rule that every time I have a heading I also need to have a key sentence and a conclusion that continues the storyline really helps.

But there’s something else. I have a theoretical construct that drives the whole thing. It’s described at the beginning. What is really good and useful is that I can say something about it at the end of each chapter. References are made to it at relevant points all the way through; but something major can be said at the end of each chapter. 

In my case, the theoretical construct is my grammar of culture. It’s mine; but it’s based on the work of Max Weber and critical cosmopolitan sociology. The grammar is something that I’ve been using for a long time now. Each chapter in the current book makes use of it. What I can do, indeed need to do, at the end of each chapter, is to use it to summarise what I’ve been writing about. 

Using the theory in this way is good for developing the theory. It makes sure that the theory is still working and living. It may also require me to adjust or even throw out the theory. 

But it also really helps me to pull together what I’m writing about and to show the storyline. In that last section of each chapter, which I actually call ‘the grammar applied’ – or it could be ‘the theory applied’ – I can both summarise the chapter, but I can also say how it’s built on or changed from the previous chapter.

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