Presentation on theme: "Writing TO ILLUSTRATE. An exemplification essay uses one or more particular cases or EXAMPLES to illustrate or explain a point, an assertion or an abstract."— Presentation transcript:
Writing TO ILLUSTRATE
An exemplification essay uses one or more particular cases or EXAMPLES to illustrate or explain a point, an assertion or an abstract concept.
Have you ever watched a talk show? Which are the most interesting and animated guests? ◦ Those who support the points they are trying to make with EXAMPLES. ◦ Sweeping generalizations and vague statements ARE NOT as effective as specific observations, anecdotes, details and opinions.
Therefore, EXEMPLIFICATION is used in EVERY rhetorical mode in order to explain and clarify, to add interest and to persuade.
When you want to understand a general concept or an abstract idea, you probably ask for an example. And when you want to explain an idea, you probably provide examples as a strategy to make your thinking clear. ILLULSTRATION, or EXEMPLIFICATION, is simply a way that writers and speakers use to explain things so that readers and listeners can better understand the topic being discussed.
You want to impress your date with a “good meal.” How do you know what a “good meal is?” An example might be a three-course meal of lobster bisque soup, roasted salmon with garlic mashed potatoes and a dessert of chocolate mousse and a cappucino.
REMEMBER: ◦ EXAMPLES MAKE THE ABSTRACT CONCRETE AND THE GENERAL SPECIFIC.
When you say “for example,” or “for instance,” you are providing examples to help listeners or readers understand what you mean.
In suggesting to your friend that he leads an unhealthy lifestyle, he might say, “What do you mean? Give me SOME EXAMPLES of what I do that is so bad that you think my lifestyle is unhealthy.” You might say: ◦ “You don’t get enough sleep. You sleep only from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each day. ◦ “You don’t exercise enough. You skip P.E. class twice a week as it is” ◦ “Lunch for you is just another excuse to eat a bag of Doritos.” ◦ “Fruit and vegetables to you, are an endangered species, or deadly poison.”
The word EXAMPLE comes from the LATIN work “exemplum” which refers to one thing from among many, or something that illustrates a more general category. The word ILLUSTRATE comes from the Latin word “lux” which means light or illumination, or to brighten, or cast light upon something to make it clearer or more visible. When you write exemplification, or illustration essays, you are choosing SPECIFIC things to illustrate a general statement. You are making it CLEARER or more understandable, or more VISIBLE.
Exemplification, like the other rhetorical strategies we’ve studied IS AN AIDE TO CLEARER WRITING, THINKING and UNDERSTANDING.
Exemplification (illustration) works through a process of moving back and forth between general ideas and specific examples. Specific examples share the general characteristics of the idea, concept or principle a writer is explaining, by making use of them. Examples enable readers to see how the idea exists in the real world. From those examples, readers can “get” or “grasp” the idea you are trying to explain.
All GOOD writing uses SPECIFIC examples: ◦ Facts ◦ Statistics ◦ Instances ◦ People, places, events ◦ Anecdotes ◦ Stories ◦ History
Examples can help you test your own ideas (your thesis) as well as to test the ideas of others. For example: ◦ Let’s say you propose to write an essay about how Matanzas students perform better academically that FPC students. What examples could you include to ILLUSTRATE your point?
Remember to use examples that do each of the following: ◦ 1. ADD INTEREST In the example provided, readers are not just going to be interested in statistics or facts about FCAT scores, AP scores, etc. They are going to want some “human interest” or something to keep them reading.
2. USE EXAMPLES THAT EXPLAIN AND CLARIFY ◦ Make sure you use SPECIFIC EXAMPLES that prove or support your point.
3. USE EXAMPLES THAT WILL BE PERSUASIVE, and which will get your readers to believe that what you are saying is reasonable and worth considering.
Make sure you use ENOUGH examples. ◦ Unfortunately, no general rule exists to tell you how many examples you need to support your thesis. ◦ We are going to be reading several essays that use as few as two, and as many as more than half a dozen examples that “drive home” the point the writer is trying to make. ◦ Selecting a RANGE of examples is just as important as choosing an appropriate number. ◦ If you wanted to persuade your readers into believing that MHS students outperform FPC students, you would need to provide a WIDE RANGE of examples, from: music awards, performance on standardized tests, scholarship offers awarded, National Merit Scholars, AP test results, graduation rates and much more…
Make sure you use REPRESENTATIVE examples. One person’s experience is NOT enough to support a conclusion. You need to gather examples of the experiences of MANY people to decide if your theory is valid.
Let’s say I wanted to write an essay that suggests, “The SAT elective is a valuable class at Matanzas High School.” What SPECIFIC examples could you use to illustrate this? (Let’s brainstorm aloud on this one):
Writing an exemplification essay is really no different than writing any other type of essay we’ve written in the various rhetorical modes this year: ◦ Begin with an effective INTRODUCTION, typically an ANECDOTE, which is typically an example itself. End the introduction with a statement, or thesis, that states the point you are going to illstrate. ◦ Each body paragraph should develop a separate example, or presents the point as illustrated by several brief examples, or explores an extended example which continues throughout the essay. ◦ Beginning your paper with a striking example might stimulate your reader’s interest and curiosity; ending which one as well (or coming back to the original one!) might vividly reinforce your thesis as well.
Use examples that are RELEVANT: ◦ An example HAS FAILED if it does not help your reader see the truth of what you are saying. ◦ An example HAS FAILED if it is too trivial!
Use examples that are VIVID. Many examples FAIL because they are too VAGUE or non- specific or just plain BORING! Vague: ◦ “There is no control over memory. Sometimes one remembers the most trivial details. For example, I remember things about my father, about pieces of furniture in our home, and about insignificant places that I once visited. I even remember certain shopping trips that took place a long time ago.” Here is how to make this same example VIVID:
“There is no control over memory. Soon you find yourself being vague about an event which seemed so important at the time that you thought you’d never forget it. Or unable to recall the face of someone who you could have sworn was there forever. On the other hand, trivial and meaningless memories may stay with you for life. For example, I can still shut my eyes and see Victoria grinding coffee on the pantry steps, the glass bookcase and the books in it, my father’s pipe rack, the leaves of the sandbox tree, the wallpaper of the bedroom of some shabby hotel, the hairdresser in Antibes. It’s in this way that I remember buying the pink Milanese-silk underclothes, the assistant who sold them to me, and coming into Bond Street holding the parcel.” From the New Yorker
When necessary, ESTABLISH a CLEAR CONNECTION between your example and the point you are making. You do this with “connecting comments” using transitions. Some connective expressions include, “for example,” “for instance,” “to illustrate” “a case in point”
Does your essay have a clear THESIS STATEMENT in the introduction that states or asserts the concept that you will illustrate? Do your examples explain and clarify your thesis statement? Have you provided enough examples? Have you chosen CLEAR and REPRESENTATIVE examples? Are your examples PERSUASIVE? Do your examples ADD INTEREST? Are you examples VIVID? Have you used transitional words and phrases that reinforce the connection between your examples and your thesis statement? Have you had a PEER read and OFFER SUGGESTIONS for improving your essay?