Why Paragraph and Narrative Structure are Important


Poorly-written paragraphs and narrative can obscure your message and make it difficult for the evaluator to follow your proposal’s logic and main points. In contrast, well-written paragraphs and narratives present ideas clearly and comprehensively, in a way that can be easily understood and scored by the evaluator. In addition to making your proposal easier to score, strong writing can contribute to your company’s credibility in the eyes of the evaluator. Disjointed writing with typos and misspellings can send a subliminal message to evaluators that your company is sloppy, disorganized, and careless. Well-written paragraphs and well-structured narratives are more likely to give evaluators the impression that your company is careful, methodical, and focused, which can make evaluators more receptive to your solution.

Basic Paragraph Structure
Individual paragraphs make up the narrative of your proposal response and comprise the topic sentence, supporting details, and concluding sentence. Each paragraph should focus on one main idea, which you should introduce in the first sentence—the topic sentence. Following the topic sentence are sentences that present points to support the main idea—supporting details. The paragraph should end with a concluding sentence that ties together the ideas presented in the paragraph and transitions to the next paragraph, if one follows. I outline this basic paragraph structure below:

Topic Sentence
  • Is the first sentence
  • States the main idea

Supporting Details
  • Elaborate on the topic sentence
  • Include facts, statistics, metrics

Concluding Sentence
  • Ties together the ideas in the paragraph
  • Transitions to the next paragraph, if one follows

I provide a sample paragraph below:



Basic Narrative Structure
Basic narrative structure is similar to the basic paragraph structure. Well-structured narrative includes an introduction paragraph that introduces the topic of the section or subsection and identifies key points. The introduction is followed by supporting paragraphs—typically with one major point per paragraph—that are linked together with transitional words and phrases. The supporting paragraphs are followed by a concluding paragraph that summarizes the key points and reiterates the customer benefits. I outline this basic narrative structure below:

Introduction
  • Introduces the topic of the section/subsection and key points

Supporting Paragraphs
  • Include one major point per paragraph
  • Use supporting facts, statistic, and metrics
  • Link together with transitional words and phrases

Concluding Paragraph
  • Summarizes the key points
  • Reiterates the “so what” (i.e., customer benefits)

Final Thoughts
When we are constantly busy and in the middle of the proposal grind, sometimes we forget to step back and remember the basics. However, taking the time to develop well-written paragraphs organized into well-structured narratives can provide your evaluators with much clearer and accessible information about your solution that is easier to understand and score. In addition to making your proposal easier to score, well-structured paragraphs and narratives are more likely to give evaluators the impression that your company is careful, methodical, and focused, which can make evaluators more receptive to your solution overall. Even the best solution can be clouded by poor writing. Take the time to present your solution clearly—it’s definitely worth the effort in the end!



Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)
LinkedIn


Useful Resource

https://libguides.newcastle.edu.au/c.php?g=557839&p=5536259

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