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chronological order


chronological order

211 Things a Clever Girl Can Do by Bunty Cutler (Perigee, 2008)


In composition, a method of organization in which actions or events are presented as they occur (or occurred) in time.

Narratives and process analysis essays commonly rely on chronological order.

See also:

Examples of Chronologically Organized Essays:

Examples and Observations:

  • Chronological Order in a Narrative
    "Early next morning I was lying in bed, when an old gentleman riding a bay horse arrived at the river. He was dressed in a faded chocolate gown flecked with roses and the end of his turban was wrapped round his face over an iron-grey beard. Across the saddle he carried a brown lamb. Behind him, on foot, came his son aged twelve, flapping along in a gown of geranium red and a white turban as big as himself, and holding a stick with which he directed the progress of a black ewe and her black lamb.

    "When the party had assembled at the ford, the process of crossing began. First the old man rode into the stream, with difficulty kept his horse's head against it, and deposited the brown lamb on the other side. While he was returning, the child caught the black lamb. This he gave to his father, who then reentered the water dangling it by one leg so that it screamed. Bleating in sympathy, the ewe followed. But the current swept her away and landed her on the bank she had started from. Meanwhile her offspring, now safe on the further bank with the brown lamb, kept on crying. Again the old man returned, and helped his son drive the wet and shivering ewe a hundred yards up the bank above the ford. There the current caught her once more, and landed her neatly at the ford itself, this time on the further side, where she was warmly greeted by both lambs. Putting his foot on his father's boot, the little boy hopped up behind him and probed the stream with his pole as they crossed, to see if the bottom was firm. On the other bank he dismounted, restored the brown lamb to his father's saddle, set the ewe and the black lamb in motion, and launched into a swinging trot, with his geranium gown flying out behind him. The bay horse followed, and the process was lost on the horizon."
    (Robert Byron, The Road to Oxiana. Jonathan Cape, 1937)

    "In any kind of narration, the simplest approach is to set down events in chronological order, the way they happened. To do so is to have your story already organized for you. A chronological order is therefore an excellent sequence to follow unless you can see some special advantage in violating it."
    (X.J. Kennedy, Dorothy M. Kennedy, and Jane E. Aaron, The Bedford Reader, 7th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000)

  • Chronological Order in a Process Analysis
    "How to Boil an Egg Like a Pro

    "Put your eggs in a saucepan and cover them with about one-half inch cold water. Heat the pan until the water is simmering and cook like this for seven minutes, using a timer. As soon as the timer dings put the saucepan into the sink and turn on the cold tap, allowing the water to overspill. It doesn't need to be galloping; a steady but vigorous flow will do. After a minute turn off the tap and leave the eggs in the cold water for another couple of minutes, or until they are cold enough to hold comfortably.

    "When time's up your eggs will be cooked, and with no soft center remaining."
    (Bunty Cutler, 211 Things a Clever Girl Can Do. Perigee, 2008)

    "When the steps in the process must be performed in a particular order, details are arranged in a chronological (or time) order. To help your reader follow the chronological order, transitions like these can help:
    First, you must . . .
    Next, be careful to . . .
    Now, you can . . .
    After that , try . . .
    Finally, you should . . .
    If you need to mention what not to do so your reader does not make a mistake or misunderstand a step, include this information at the point in the process when the confusion can occur. If you need to define a term, do so the first time the term is used. Finally, if you need to explain why a step is performed, do so when the step is given."
    (Barbara Fine Clouse, Patterns for a Purpose, 3rd ed. McGraw Hill, 2003)
Also Known As: time order, linear order
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