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A discussion about Rhetorical Analysis and Argumentative essays.

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1 A discussion about Rhetorical Analysis and Argumentative essays

2 After reading/grading your writing I have found a few areas of improvement that are small, yet meaningful. These mistakes were the most commonly noted in your last essay…

3 Your Diction Elevate your word choices! You are expected to write as well-educated juniors, and part of that expectation is the use of higher-level vocabulary. Bury the following words (never use them in a formal essay again): a lot, very, stuff, everyone, things, gonna, b/c, cuz, would of/should of/could of

4 Diction (the author’s) When you say “She uses diction,” you’re basically saying she uses words. No kidding? How shocking! A writer using words? Instead, comment on the KIND of diction you’ve noticed. “She uses negative diction,” “She employs strong diction,” or “She utilizes diction that alludes to a war.”

5 Imagery Again, much like “She uses diction,” you need to modify the type of imagery found. Saying “She uses imagery” is akin to saying that she paints pictures with her words. What KINDS of pictures are you seeing as a result of her writing? “She entails vivid imagery,” “She utilizes horrific imagery,” or even “Her imagery connotes a silent world, empty of all color and sound.”

6 Who is your audience? Who reads/scores your essays for the exam? What education level would you expect of these people? They do not need to have rhetorical devices and/or appeals defined for them. They already KNOW what pathos is – you don’t need to explain it to them. You DO need to specify what part of the text contains pathos, and how the writer has used pathos to prove their point.

7 Everybody dies… I realize that you want to make a point, but please refrain from making statements such as “Everybody likes nature,” or “Everybody hates poison.” It’s too far-reaching (maybe I LIKE poison, you don’t know me). This type of statement qualifies you as a less- than-able writer. You are a more-than-able writer, trust me.

8 I, You, Me In a rhetorical analysis essay, it is advisable to refrain from using “I,” “you,” or “me” in your essay. Do NOT use “In my opinion” EVER in this type of essay – the readers already know it’s your opinion, or else you would not or should not have included it in your essay. Argumentative and synthesis essays are appropriate places to use personal pronouns, but NOT rhetorical analysis essays.

9 Who does she think she is anyway? The test creators included this author’s work for many reasons. One of the main reasons they chose it is because they feel that the writer is an accomplished professional. Do NOT attack or question the author in your essay (“She acts as though she’s superior to everyone”). On the other hand, do not fawn over the author. The scorers KNOW that she’s a skillful writer – they don’t need you to state “She does a swell job” or “Her writing is amazing.”

10 Analyze, Not Summarize Don’t fall victim to the easy way out and simply restate the author’s words. The readers KNOW what the author said – they are looking to see if YOU can analyze WHY the author said what they said, or WHY the author chose to say it in such a way as to have an effect upon his/her readers. Stay away from plot summaries – go for the WHY and leave out the WHAT.

11 Ratios? It is advisable to use a specific ratio when writing rhetorical analysis essays: 1/3 to 2/3 1/3 of your paragraphs should be textually based (meaning, you’re either quoting or paraphrasing from the text) 2/3 of your paragraphs should be analysis of what the author is doing with that text

12 Train of Thought vs. Poker Hand Oh, thesis statement – what a love/hate relationship we have with thee. A train of thought thesis is: “In Carson’s essay, she uses ethos, logos, and pathos to demonstrate how mankind is killing the planet.” Notice it follows a predictable format: Blah blah blah POINT A, POINT B, and POINT C.

13 Train of Thought vs. Poker Hand So what is so wrong about the train of thought thesis? Nothing, except it’s predictable and is better suited for FCAT essays…in 8 th grade. The Poker Hand thesis statement doesn’t show all of your points at the outset. It tantalizes the reader with your argument, but doesn’t tip your hand at the outset.

14 Poker Hand For example, compare the Train of Thought thesis statement: “In Carson’s essay, she uses ethos, logos, and pathos to demonstrate how mankind is killing the planet.” TO The Poker Hand thesis statement: “In Carson’s essay, she effectively argues that all of mankind is to blame for the destruction of Earth and its resources.”

15 But… Are you wondering if the scorers will look down upon you because you didn’t discuss the various rhetorical devices in your thesis? If you discuss them in your essay, then aren’t the scorers going to read about the devices sooner or later?

16 Argumentative Essays It was your first try, and I completely understand that. I promise that I will keep that in mind when I score your writing. HOWEVER, I have noticed a few things that you should keep in your minds when approaching an argumentative prompt…

17 Argumentative Essays First of all, it’s up to you what position you take on the issue presented. Don’t automatically assume that you will score higher if you take the position that you think the graders will like. If you try to argue from a position that you don’t truly back, your argument may come off as unsound and fake.

18 Argumentative Essays Evidence, evidence, evidence! Use specific evidence to demonstrate your points. Since this essay dealt with fundraising, you had a plethora of experiences that you could have used. Think about it…school fundraising, the charities that advertise on TV, even the Girl Scout cookies that you buy every year – all of those would work in this essay.

19 Argumentative Essays How much evidence do you need? Again, go with the 1/3 – 2/3 ratio: 1/3 of your paragraph should be your position/argument/stance The remaining 2/3 should be the evidence that supports your position

20 Counterarguments Whenever you are writing an argumentative essay, you should always mention the counterargument to your position. For example, if you argued that offering incentives for charity is a bad thing, you should also include at least one instance where you can see the benefit of this practice.

21 Counterarguments “But won’t that weaken my argument?” No, believe it or not, it STRENGTHENS your argument. It shows that you have looked at all angles, and that you are mature enough to recognize an alternate approach. It also allows you to bring in more arguments as to why your position is the stronger of the two.

22 Qualify? You can challenge, defend, or qualify a position. Defending or challenging a position means that you have chosen a side and are prepared to argue for your point of view. Qualifying means that you can see both sides of the issue; however, do NOT allow a qualification paper to be wishy-washy.

23 Wishy – Washy? Yep, you heard me. Wishy-washy. Meaning that you are straddling the fence so much that the reader of your essay has no clue as to which side you feel is the better position to take. Even if you’re going to qualify an argument, you should make an effort to lean to one direction more than the other. If you don’t, your essay may be viewed as taking NO position, and that’s not going to rate a very good score.

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