ENG 4U: Organizing the Mundane

An organizing principle is a basic idea or strategy we use to organize our world. Think of it this way: all of the methods you can use to sort your MP3s—by artist, by song title, or by date—are organizing principles. Your choice shapes the way you can access the files. In a similar way, writers use a variety of organizing principles to organize their work. Their choices determine how readers interact with and understand the content.

While we will look at several organizing principles this week, let’s begin with a chronological/process method. Let’s begin by choosing a mundane task, and listing all of the step necessary to complete it.

Fiction and the Organizing Principle

Write a 1-2 page piece of fiction in which a character you know well is completing mundane activities that are completely at odds with his/her personality. The Organizing Principle should be the process involved in completing the mundane activities. Begin by mapping out all the characteristics of the character (make a few up if need be), and the requirements of the task he/she is completing.

We will dedicate Thursday and Friday to this task.


Imagine that Voldemort needs to do the dishes.  Here are a few ideas I might try to work into the piece of fiction:

  • The hiss-like sound of the water filling the sink
  • His disdain for the activity communicated through the haughty look on his face
  • Voldemort’s peculiar way of holding the scrub brush (between his index and thumb, with the rest of his fingers slightly elevated, much like he holds his wand)
  • His struggle to clean the pots from the previous meal; he probably hisses “Pots” under his breath as he scrubs.
  • His anger at Wormtail who, shaking from fear, repeatedly drops the plates he is attempting to dry

Here are some options for you. You may certainly create your own. Whatever your choice, remember that the organizing principle is the activity; the steps in the activity will determine the organization of your of work.

  • Voldemort does the dishes (Clearly, I’ve provided some ideas for you. Use this one only if you are absolutely stuck)
  • Gollum stocks shelves at Walmart (or any retail store)
  • Darth Vader works the night shift at Tim Horton’s
  • Regina George (Mean Girls) is kept after class to clean up her biology dissection
  • Lady Macbeth tries to get a red wine stain out of carpet
  • A video game character of your choice cleans the bathroom (Mario seems like a nice choice. He is a plumber, so he should be able to handle any problem that comes his way)
  • A horror film villain of your choice plays tag
  • Katniss Everdeen works a shift at Starbucks


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