Writing Rules of Inference

Have you heard of the laws of inference? Do you know how to use them? This is inference:

Mary went into labor.  She had a monkey.

You see this type of thing used all the time in the Enquirer and gossip magazines.

On the surface, one could assume the following:

  1. A woman had mated with a monkey and she got pregnant
  2. The lady went to the hospital to give birth
  3. Her baby wasn’t a child, it was a monkey
  4. It was a historical event
  5. This event would open new doors to the medical community and scientists
  6. The news media would hound the monkey child throughout its life
  7. Documentaries would undoubtedly be created
  8. A movie would be in the making

And even more thoughts would flood your mind. Did the woman go on a safari? Was she attacked by a monkey — or an ape? Where was her husband? Or was she even married? How will her family accept the monkey baby? Does the monkey baby have any human characteristics?

Or, you could read the headlines the way I was thinking when I wrote it: Mary was in labor, and she owned a monkey. Do you see what inference can do?

Mystery authors quite often mislead the reader by dropping clues that can be read the wrong way. Inference is also used in riddles, jokes and some games. Now it’s your turn. Write inference headlines for me in the blog.

Inference creates a mental puzzle for the reader to solve. The reader’s mind will always jump past the immediate and form its own conclusions, based on the information it has been fed.

Try it. Now you give me an inference within two sentences.


2 thoughts on “Writing Rules of Inference

  1. Hi KW. Thank you for your comment. Yes, I suppose I could have made that a little more clear. One of the definitions for implication is “something that is inferred (deduced or entailed or implied) ,” so inference, implications, and deductions pretty much blend together, depending on where and how the author wishes to place circumstantial evidence. Good comment. Thanks.


  2. Although the rules of inference are logical laws for mathematical formulae, and I know the analogy you are using here, you should identify that in the process of writing, the author is implying what they want the reader to infer. Therefore, we write implications not inferences.


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