Revising with Rhetorical Appeals
LEARNING GOALS: By completing this assignment, you will:
use peer review as a writing process activity for revision
revise your writing using to incorporate the three rhetorical appeals
enhance your use of development strategies for a piece of writing
demonstrate your understanding of the rhetorical appeals
improve your use of common formats and conventions (e.g., structure, tone, mechanics, citation) for writing
TASK: Your job is to perform a substantial revision of one of your first three major writing assignments, using your classmates’ feedback and the rhetorical concepts you have learned so far as guides to enhance your writing. Your ultimate goal is to make your revision into the absolute best piece of writing you can manage. This revision should be closer to achieving its goals and engaging its readers than anything else you have written this semester.
To complete this assignment, you will need first to select the major writing assignment that you will revise. Then, you will give and receive peer review feedback in this unit’s Peer Review assignment. Your classmates’ responses to your work should be your starting place. If they have done a good job, your classmates will give you plenty to work with! You should also use all relevant feedback from your instructor as a guide to revision.
This assignment requires significant revision. That means that it will not be enough to simply edit your punctuation, run spellcheck, add a quotation or two, and come up with a new title. So, if you aren’t simply editing your prose, what should you be doing in revision?
This is where the rhetorical concepts that you’ve learned in class so far will help. Let’s recap. You have learned about:
The rhetorical triangle: writer, audience, and subject
Connections between genre and social context
Making arguments using claims & reasons why
Thinking of argumentative writing as a conversation
The three appeals: ethos (credibility, trustworthiness), pathos (appeals to emotion), logos (appeals with logic & reasoning)
Each of these concepts can help guide you thinking in revision. For instance, you might consider the audience you are invoking in your writing. What can you count on your audience to know or believe already? What might you have to explain to them further?
Likewise, you might think about genre. Is your writing closer to a narrative? If so, you might want to take a close look at your use of tactile details, dialogue, scene-setting, and characterization — the tools of narrative. If your writing is an argument, you may want to focus on using claims and reasons why, and on anticipating your readers’ objections and any alternate perspectives on your issue.
Finally, you might think about your goal or purpose in your writing. Ultimately, what sort of reaction are you hoping to get from any potential readers? What is the message you want to send? What aspects of your subject need to be explored?
Let these questions guide your work. You will gain many more ideas about where to focus your revision in this unit’s mini-lectures, as well as in your work on your Writer’s Journal.
Good luck revising!
COVER LETTER: When you submit this assignment, include a brief cover letter (no more than 300 words) that answers the following questions:
What are the most significant changes you have made to this writing assignment?
Why did you make these changes?
What peer feedback was most helpful? Why?
What instructor feedback did you incorporate into your revision?
How has this piece of writing evolved from its original purpose or goal? Would you say that the message is the same, or has it changed in some way?
Include your cover letter as a comment on your upload — not as a separate document. Your cover letter will not count for or against your grade, but will help your instructor respond best to your writing.
LENGTH, DESIGN, & FORMATTING: At this point in your writing process, the length of your writing is less important than its effect: you want your writing assignment to achieve its goals, whatever length that takes. In many cases, this revision will be significantly longer than the original assignment — although length is not necessarily a sign of quality. As always, make sure to fully explore your subject, using development strategies that help you support, clarify, and extend your focus.
Use MLA guidelines for document design. This includes using 1-inch margins, double-spaced type, a page number in the upper right corner, and a Works Cited page.
Remember, titles are rhetorical: make sure that your revision has a title that helps the piece achieve its goals.
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