Analyze the Rhetorical Modes of Texts & Within Texts
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure and patterns an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
The Rhetorical Modes: Videos and Resources
"Description" means "illustrative detail." A description paper often takes a person or object and then describes that person or thing in great illustrative detail. For example, a description paper about a close friend might describe his or her appearance, her actions, and her personality, both through direct descriptive words--like paintings of her in different situations--and through stories or vignettes showing him in action.
"Narration" or a "narrative" provides details of what happened. It is almost like a list of events in the order that they happened, except that it is written in paragraph form. A narration or narrative doesn't have to show any cause and effect; it only needs to show what happened in the order that it happened. History books are filled with narrations. For example, if I were to describe the visit of the Pope to Denver in 1993, I would use his itinerary and give details of each major event in that visit. If I were writing a book about it, I would give details of many of the more interesting minor events as well. I would do this in the order in which they occurred: first the Pope did this, then he did that, and then he did a third thing.
Example & Illustration
"Exemplification" means "the giving of an example." An exemplification paper usually starts with a main idea, belief, or opinion--something abstract--and then gives one extended example or a series of shorter examples to illustrate that main idea. In fact, an exemplification paper is a paper that illustrates an abstract idea.
Division & Classification
"Classification" means that a subject--a person, place, event, or object--is identified and broken into parts and sub-parts. This type of paper is slightly more complex than others. For this reason, you might first want to learn to write "Extended Definition," "Comparison/Contrast," and "Description" paper.
Comparison & Contrast
"Comparison/contrast" means to show how subjects are alike and/or different. A simple comparison/contrast paper often has two subjects and describes how they are alike and then how they differ. For example, a comparison/contrast paper on two forms of weekend entertainment, camping and dancing, might first give details on how both can involve physical skills, friends, and enjoying sounds and sights; then the paper might give details of how camping and popular dancing differ in that one happens in nature and the other in the midst of civilization, one usually is slow and quiet and the other often fast and loud, and one peaceful while the other is rousing. If you are asked to write a comparison/contrast paper on just one subject, you can first compare it to the subjects it is like and then contrast it to the subjects that seem opposite it; several different similarities and several different opposites are acceptable, even helpful, in such a paper. For example, if you were going to write a comparison/contrast paper about airports, you might decide compare them to city bus stations, train stations, and street bus stops. Then you might contrast them with each of these.
This section describes how to start an "extended definition." An extended definition simply defines a subject in a fuller or more extended--more thorough--way than does a dictionary. Typically an extended definition has a brief introductory paragraph of a few sentences, a body of one or several paragraphs, and a brief concluding paragraph. Assume, when you write an extended definition, that you are defining something for a student or perhaps a foreigner who never has heard the term before.
Cause & Effect
"Cause and effect" simply means that you start with a subject (an event, person, or object) and then show the causes (reasons) for it, and/or the effects (results) of it. "Cause" means the reasons why or for something, or the source of something. "Effects" simply are results or outcomes. Cause-and-effect writing shows a chain of connected events, each the logical result of the one before it. A simple cause-and-effect paper discusses the chain of events related to a person, event, or object, showing what are the causes and what are the results. For example, a paper about a solar car might describe how it came to be built by an inventor and how he first became interested in solar cars (the causes), and what the results of this solar car might be--how its existence might lead people to take energy efficiency and environmental concerns more seriously and even lead to mass-produced solar cars (effects or results).
Argument & Persuasion
An "argument" is, simply, an educated guess or opinion, not a simple fact. It is something debatable: "Men have walked on the moon" is a fact, but "People will walk on Venus in the next ten years" is an opinion. Anything that reasonably can be debated is an argument. A simple argument paper usually presents a debatable opinion and then offers supports in favor of it, or sometimes an argument paper will discuss both sides of an issue and then give good reasons for choosing one side over the other. For example, a paper about space flight might argue that humans should not spend large sums of money in sending people into space. The paper might then argue that three good reasons this is true is that there are many poor on our planet, on whom our resources should be spent, that space flight is not as enlightening for humankind as increasing literacy or cultural awareness, and that most of he money being spent on space is for military purposes, which is useless. Another type of argument paper might ask the main idea as a question: "Should the human race spend large sums of money to send people into space?" Then it might argue both sides thoroughly and, finally, choose one side and give strong reasons why this side is best.