13 April 2008
Message from Dr Lau: Book Update
An outline is drawn…
Right from my college days, I have been mastering the art of testing the completeness of my premises with in-depth research and a clear outline.
One test that I routinely employ is what I call the essence test. In my view, an outline is complete only when I, as a reader of my own work, can understand my concepts as a unified whole.
If a thought is so abstract that it is not clear even in my own mind, how can I expect my reader to comprehend it? That’s when I reject the thought out rightly, no matter how elegant it may appear in the beginning. I instinctively know that it doesn’t belong in my writing.
Nonetheless, problems, or rather ideas that are counterproductive to my ultimate project plan, do arise. I, just make sure that they don’t arise once too often, to derail my train of thought altogether; or that when they do arise, they are immediately detected and weeded out completely from my draft plan. That’s what I did during the writing of this book too.
The second test of validity that I use for my ideas; one which I probably borrowed from the Aristonian philosophy is that of casualty. This principle dictates that my outline establish a logical chain of cause-and-effect before it can lead to some definite conclusion.
I therefore make sure that the outline that I draw follows this core principle and that there is logic and cohesiveness in the plan outline.