The Paramedic Method utilizes a number of steps to help writers analyze and clean their prose. For each sentence, writers should:
- Circle prepositions.
- Draw a box around instances of passive voice.
- Locate the action in the sentence.
- Change the action to a verb if appropriate.
- Ensure that the subject is the “doer.”
- Eliminate redundancies and unnecessary wordiness.
Here is a pictorial example of the Paramedic Method in use. (Image taken from the Purdue Online Writing Lab):
Tutors should follow Jordan’s previously described “3 Step Method” when utilizing the Paramedic Method in their sessions. Consider the following hypothetical scenario:
Tutor – “Your argument is sound and nicely supported by your content. However, I wasn’t able to reach that conclusion without reading through your paper a few times. You should consider making your message clearer to your reader.”
Writer – “Okay, how do I go about doing that?”
Tutor – “The Paramedic Method! We apply this method, which helps pare down wordiness and improve clarity, to each sentence of your paper. We’ll walk through it together, and then you’ll be able to apply it to your entire paper.”
Writer – “Sounds good.”
Tutor – “So let’s start with the introduction…”
Following this, the tutor and writer apply the Paramedic Method to the first paragraph of the paper. Then, the tutor points out another instance in which the Paramedic Method will be helpful and asks the writer to employ the Paramedic Method to that section. Finally, the tutor points to a general area of the paper that needs improvement and asks the writer to apply the method on his own.
This method is especially nice because it encompasses a wide range of sentence level errors. It is not always necessary, especially if the writer seems to only have issues with certain errors, like comma splices or the passive voice. But if the writer’s prose is messy or unnecessarily dense, then the Paramedic Method provides a channel through which both tutor and writer can explore the possible rationale behind that style of writing.