Effective Writing Highlights followed by a review Ritchie English 11 H
Most Important Highlights • A strong essay starts with an original idea (analysis not expository)…I often call this a “kernel of insight” • Thesis and Topic Sentences should be thoughtful, interesting, and clear (no plot summary) • There is a letter grade at stake in the review process.
Review • What follows is some information about introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions using the short story “Use of Force” by Williams Carlos Williams • Updated using Practice Writes
An Intro paragraph must have.. • Hook-grab the reader’s attention • Supporting Ideas-explain topic • Transition-narrow the focus • Thesis Statement-main claim of essay + Blueprint-map of specifics
Hook • Grab the reader’s attention. You must have a hook in your essays and it should be broad. You can use a: A.) surprising, or very original, statement B.) question C.) famous quotation D.) short anecdote
Strong Hook Examples • “Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us,” said Simon from William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” as he presented the possibility that the boys marooned on the island were letting their emotions and their imaginations take control of themselves • Emotion is truly treacherous, it fuels passion and obsession, it manipulates the mind into irrational decisions, and it is very hard to reason against in many situations. • Humans only wish that logic controlled emotion, but in reality humans are only as strong as their most susceptible emotion. • Reason and logic were the basis of all thought during the Enlightenment, but is this logic still present in today’s society?
Supporting Ideas • Explain the overall issue that your essay deals with (this should connect to the opener). Providing the larger context should be between 1-3 sentences. • What is the issue or problem that your paper deals with and why is it a problem? • Has there been debate about your issue? • What have been some of the different perspectives on your issue? • In some essays, you will need to define key terms that you will refer to throughout the essay.
Transition • A transitional sentence(s) which leads from the larger context to the specific text that you are analyzing. This is where you connect your hook to your essay topic. The author name and title of the book needs to be included as does the topic your essay will address.
Thesis • Thesis: The main argument of the essay. A thesis must have a subject + an opinion/claim. It is typically placed as the last sentence(s) of the introductory paragraph. • The thesis is the most persuasive and complex sentence in your essay. It tells the reader what the point of your essay is. It must be complex yet clear, and it must have a claim or something original (it absolutely can’t be fact only).
Blueprint (included in thesis) • Blueprint: The part of a thesis that shows the reader the different ways you will prove your argument. It essentially is a map (three reasons) of your three body paragraphs.
Strong Thesis Examples • The truth is, most people find it difficult to control their actions with logical consideration of future consequences and impossible to overcome their raw emotions by the same linear tactics. • People are governed primarily by their emotions; this idea can be seen through the ability of emotions to overcome reason, the countless emotion-based decisions made daily, and the power of emotions to manipulate people.
Excellent Practice Write Introduction The Heart is Mightier than the Head. It’s a common scenario on the many police or crime scene investigator shows that play on television, a woman finds out her husband is cheating on her and in a jealous rage, grabs a gun and shoots him or maybe a man grabs a statue and fatally hits his business partner after finding out he has been stealing money from him. People commit “crimes of passion” due to a powerful emotional impulse. These people do not think before they act, but follow their passion and make a quick decision that will lead to horrible consequences. They never had a moment to think, their actions were a result of their emotions. People cannot rely on reason as Iago from William Shakespeare’s novel Othello, claims. He states to the heartbroken Roderigo, “Virtue! A fig! ‘Tis in ourselves are we thus or thus. Our bodies are gardens, to which our wills are gardeners...It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will” (1.3. 320-331). Although reasoning does play a part in people’s decisions, emotion is really the one pushing people’s actions. Emotions stir up forceful feelings from excitement to furiousness. These feelings makes it difficult for people to think clearly and effectively in making judgments, therefore they do what their emotions tell them to. People’s usual common sense and judgment are blinded and overrun by the sudden feelings they have. When people have powerful emotions, it is the predominate force behind human’s decision- making, and causes people to disregard their logic and reasoning and make rash choices.
Structure Reminder Topic Sentence Transition Context of Quote #1 Quote #1 Analysis for Quote #1 Transition and Context for Quote #2 Quote #2 Analysis for Quote #2 Conclusion Sentence
Reminders: Body ParagraphsUsing the “Use of Force” • 1) Topic Sentence The first sentence of a body paragraph. This sentence states what you will prove in your paragraph in order to support your thesis. This should be a clear, complex, and insightful sentence (no plot summary) • 2)Supporting Ideas The reasons that you give within a paragraph to back up your topic sentence. Your supporting ideas need to connect directly to your topic sentence. • 3)Quotations The evidence that demonstrates your supporting ideas. Be sure you pick the best possible evidence. • 4) Quote explanationsand analysis Specifically states how and why the quotation demonstrates the supporting idea. • 5) Concluding sentence Sums up what you have proven in the paragraph.
Topic Sentences are King! • Topic sentences are essential to your success. • If you learn one thing from me about writing I hope it is that your topic sentence better be good-and by good I mean NOT PLOT SUMMARY but INSIGHT and CRITICAL THOUGHT!!
Topic Sentence is the bouncer, you need them to get into the club that is your paragraph
Topic Sentence Examples (Rank these in order of strongest to weakest if the topic is regarding whether or not the doctor is a positive or negative authority figure) • The doctor inflicts pain on his patient in a very aggressive way and uses what power he has over her in a very negative way. • At first, the doctor in the story is nice to the girl. • The doctor’s main goal is to treat the patient and help her survive. • The doctor does not treat the people he is serving with proper respect. • Everyone has the right to be comfortable with their surroundings; the doctor is the story deprives the client of this right.
Strong Practice Write Topic Sentences • Most humans act impulsively on their short-term emotions despite knowing the logical repercussions of their actions; they cannot dependently rely on their reasoning to control their emotions. • No matter how stoic or civilized a person is, there is always a deep reservoir of emotions bottled up in his or her hard shell. • Jealousy is another emotion that demonstrates how the mental state ascends reason.
Excellent body paragraph Most humans act impulsively on their short-term emotions despite knowing the logical repercussions of their actions; they cannot dependently rely on their reasoning to control their emotions. For example, women’s tennis pro Serena Williams recently lost her composure at the US when a line judge made an erroneous call at a crucial point in the semifinal match. In the heat of the moment, she angrily threatened the line judge using profanity and shook her racket menacingly at the judge. As a result, she was fined a point that cost her the game and criticized nationwide by tabloids and fans alike. She had received an earlier warning for breaking her racket out of anger, so Williams undoubtedly knew the consequences of her actions; although her reason probably told her to stay calm instead of start a ruckus, the sudden anger that possessed her at that moment was much too strong to override with sheer willpower Ideally, humans would be able to consider all their actions in a logical context before making any decisions. In an imperfect world, however, this is simply not the case. Most people, when excited by emotion, revert to their primal instincts and momentarily abandon their reason because it seems like the easiest road to take, but such personal irresponsibility can cause people to act rashly just as Williams did in her recent match. Most people have trouble taming their emotions with reason, and even on the occasion when people are able to manage their outbursts of emotion, the emotions behind the actions remain.
Rank them • Pathos is persuasion of using our emotions. • Although ethos is the most powerful of the tools, logos also plays a vital role. • Pathos is the most persuasive technique because emotion can always overpower even the most pristine logic. • Pathos is the most effective type of rhetoric because it requires no talent yet produces the best results.
Choosing the best quotes is crucial! A couple of rules of thumb: • Do not start a paragraph with a quote. Start a paragraph with a topic sentence. • Do not end a paragraph with a quote. • Just two or three quotes per paragraph. • Choose just the right amount: You want to take enough of the passage for the quotation to make sense, but you don’t want your quote to be more than four sentences. • Don’t choose quotes that say something you could say just as easily. Choose quotes that: 1) clearly and sophisticatedly explain your point, 2) prove your point, 3) memorable or extremely significant moments
Integrating Quotes Your quotes cannot just be “plopped” into your paper, they must fit and flow with your paragraph. • A well-integrated quote is a lot like a sandwich: • On top you have a sentence that is your own thought and summary, setting the context for the quote that you intend to use to prove or illustrate a point. • Then you have the quote (with author tag/signal phrase) to back up your thought. • Then on the bottom you have a few sentences of your own that reflect back on the quote providing analysis (more coming on this).
Quote Analysis Quote Analysis 101: Quote Integration Quote Quote Analysis • Typically, your quote analysis should come AFTER the quote • Quote analysis is where you try to persuade your reader that your point of view is accurate. This is also where you show the reader your critical thinking skills. • Quote analysis should always answer this question: • Why does this quote help to prove my supporting idea, my topic sentence, and MY THESIS? Don’t state the obvious. • Ask yourself this question every single time you are about to write a quote analysis. • After you write the analysis, check to make sure that it answers this question convincingly and thoroughly.
Additional QA strategies Quote Analysis: Additional Strategies • Highlight the quote’s message by suggesting how the message would change if the scene had been written differently or the quote had been excluded. • Try to anticipate how someone might argue against your point of view, and explain why your perspective is right. (much more of this later) • Draw connections between the quote and other similar moments in the story – paraphrase them and explain how they show similar ideas
QA: Another Strategy (Close Reading) • Quote Analysis: Close Reading is astrategy to produce excellent quote analysis • Close reading involves putting the language of the quote you have selected “under the microscope.” Close readings are persuasive because they meticulously explain how the details of the quote prove their own ideas. • To be a close reader, you need to examine closely the specifics of the quoted passage – discuss interesting details about the language being used and how that contributes to conveying the author’s meaning. • You must really think about the quote!
Consider the diction (word choice) of the author and draw attention to the exact words and phrases that generate your ideas. Point out if the author seems to be using any figurative language (metaphors, similes, personification, symbols, etc.) and explain why you think he or she is doing this. Discuss the tone or mood of the passage and the language that creates this atmosphere. Explain how the syntax (sentence structure) of the passage influences ideas – what is the effect of having a long sentence or a short sentence, of arranging words in a certain order, of using active or passive verbs, etc? Close Reading
Let’s Try Close Reading In “Use of Force,” the doctor is a negative example of an authority figure because he does not treat the people he is serving with proper respect. A good authority figure has power over other people, but does not look down at them. The doctor, however, thinks of his patient as an inferior being. When the doctor sees the little girl for the first time, he proclaims that she is “an unusually attractive little thing, and as strong as a heifer in appearance” (Williams 2).
Possible Analysis using Close Reading He proclaims that she is “an unusually attractive little thing, and as strong as a heifer in appearance” • The doctor’s attitude in this passage displays his callousness and his disregard for his patients. By referring to her as “a little thing”, the doctor seems to notice the girl only as an object, like a vase or a toy, rather than as a human being. Also, what initially looks like a compliment – the adjective “strong” – is immediately followed by an insult in the form of a simile. The doctor refers to her as a “heifer”, otherwise known as a cow. By lowering the girl to the level of an object or an animal, the doctor strips away her human dignity and insults her. This lack of respect is also evident in the doctor’s attitude towards the girl’s parents…
Student Example of an excellent body paragraph Not only does the doctor negatively force his patient into doing what he wants, he also enjoys seeing the little girl squirm in pain. The doctor forces the girl to open her mouth and sees it as winning a challenge instead of helping out a patient. The doctor states, “I could have torn the child apart in my own fury and enjoyed it.” The doctor likes to have the power that he exerts over others, and he especially enjoys over-powering Matilda. The doctor also says, “It was a pleasure to attack her.” This shows how the doctor actually took pleasure in inflicting pain on other humans because it makes him feel strong and powerful. The pleasure the doctor obtains from hurting a young girl shows how he is abusing his power.
Conclusion Paragraphs Wrapping it up
Your conclusion needs… • Summarize Your Points: Include a brief summary/recap of the paper's main points. Try not to just cut and paste your topic sentences, try to reword your main ideas. You want to refresh your reader on your best/main points. • You also need to add a little something else; either generalize or moralize
Generalizing • Generalize: Connect essay topic to outside world (current events, etc) • Generalize: Suggest possible results or consequences of what you have shown in the essay • Generalize: Suggest a future area for study (an interesting question that your essay leads you to want to explore)
Moralize • Moralize: Give some critical commentary on the text’s point of view. Explain what you disagree with and why (stay formal though no I). • Moralize: Why do we care about this topic?
Sum up and offer something new Most stories have some element where strong emotions overcome reason, whether a love story like Romeo and Juliet, or a story with a man bent on revenge, even if the revenge is against a whale, like in Herman Meilville’s Moby Dick. Perhaps, Blaise Pascal summed it up best when he stated that, “The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of.”
Humans have relied on reason and will to control their emotions for centuries. That is the only way a community could exist and prosper in the past as well today in the modern world. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” Being controlled solely by emotion can only lead to complications and escalation of those complications. Relying on our reason and will to control our emotions and use them in unity to make our judgments is the only effective way to go about living. Emotions should never be the sole motivator in someone’s actions and have proven in the past to be devastatingly damaging like in the case of Othello. We must rely on our reason and will to control our emotions, and allow for reason to be dominant in our lives over emotion.
Excellent Example Conclusion • Using one’s good judgment is not a feat for the faint of heart; it demands self-discipline. With emotion inevitably coloring everyday decisions, it is hard to isolate logic from feelings. Although many like to boast of their adherence to reason and like qualities, they can never be immune to the impact their feelings have psychologically, innately, and aggressively. The pursuit of just and fair behavior is a noble one, and represents behavior that should be emulated. It is all the more admirable when contrary emotions are overridden for this cause.
Proper MLA Quotation and Citation Format • Each quote needs a tagline (He explains, Golding writes) • Each quote should be preceded by an introduction to the quote, helping the reader understand who said the quote, when they said it, and how it connects to the topic.
Examples • Traditional Citation: Mary Anne explains, “I want to eat this place. Vietnam. I want to swallow the whole country” (O’Brien 111). • Citations always go at the end of your sentence: Eddie Diamond prophesized her descent into madness, “there’s the scary part. I promise you, this girl will most definitely learn,” but he had not idea of the extent that she would fall (97). • Quoting the beginning and ending of a very long quote is the only time you use ellipses (…) in a quotation. The ellipse signifies that text is missing; it can’t be used at the end of a sentence. Azar explains what happened that night, “the six greenies did not speak…then they filed off to their hut at the edge of the compound”(102).
Examples continued • What to do when there is a quote within the quote (first try to avoid this: O’Brien writes, “Rat said, ‘the days aren’t so bad, but at night the pictures get to be [scary]’”(250). • Block quoting--When you would like to use a quote that is longer than four sentences (that is 4 typed sentences on your page), then you use block formatting. O’Brien explains Rat Kiley’s deterioration: Win some and lose some, he said, but he’d tried hard. Briefly then, rambling a little, he talked about a few of the guys who were gone now, Curt Lemon and Kiowa and Ted Lavender and how crazy it was that people who were so incredibly alive could get so incredibly dead. (O’Brien 250) This quote shows how Rat Kiley had become obsessed and quite fearful of death. • Generally you should not use block formatting in an essay less than five pages, rather you should cut the quote down to the most necessary parts and use ellipses to reflect your editing.
Writing is all about effort • How much time are you willing to put in to brainstorming ideas for your argument? • How much time are you willing to put in to find the best evidence? How much time have you already put into understanding the work? • How much time are you willing to put into editing your paper?
Use this as a guideline • These are my suggestions but you do not have to take them as hard and fast rules. For example, you can have a slightly different order of things as long as all the parts are still there. • I am here to help. I am not here to “edit” your mistakes, but I am here to discuss content and structure in your writing.