Post-Class Evolution Essay Thoughts

Given that most of class today was devoted to workshopping our Writer’s Evolution drafts in our preassigned groups, I figured it would be fruitful to share some common issues to address that my group and I discovered.  Tracing back to class last week, we discussed at length the importance of keeping readers engaged in what naturally may turn out to be a very unappealing topic.  We may find joy in reminiscing on the progression of our writing over the last three to four years, but unfortunately, any audience will likely need more than some sentimental reflections to remain engaged.  I realize that a lot of this may vary based on the specific direction and goals of your essay, but below are a few suggestions that my group collectively came up with.

1. Give your readers a chance to breath by breaking up your text.  Quotes, writing excerpts, imagery, headers, etc.  Bottom line, reading through seven (plus) straight pages of this sort of subject matter will be challenging.  Give you readers a break.  Allow them to feel like they just need to reach the next check point rather than having nothing in site but a very distant finish line.

2. Instead of lecturing to your audience, try to have a conversation.  I think the underlying tone of this paper is very important to keep readers engaged.  Imagine that they have showed up to your office hours in order to hear what you have to say.  No need to overdo it with formality and fancy words.  Just say what’s on your mind.  A little voice and personality will never hurt anyone.  Maybe not never but you get the idea.

3. The opening will set the tone.  Try to be creative in how you begin your essay and clearly articulate what direction your piece will be headed in.  This is your chance to establish your credibility and make the reader optimistic that they truly won’t dread (perhaps even enjoy) reading what you have to say.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something different.

I hope at least one person finds at least one of these bullets at least slightly helpful.  At the very least, I tried.  Good luck to everyone!

2 thoughts to “Post-Class Evolution Essay Thoughts”

  1. Excellent tips, Benj! All of these points are definitely very helpful. The most consistent issue with all of the essay examples we discussed in class was that the text was just too long and too dense to read. I think it is extremely important that we all find a way to break up our texts and make it more reader-friendly and engaging. In addition, I definitely agree that the tone of both the opening and the entire piece are extremely crucial to making these essays successful. For me personally, I want to try to create a relaxed and friendly tone that my readers can relate to and engage with right off the bat. However, I am still struggling with my actual argument – so that is my next battle! Thank you for the tips and good luck!

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Jordan. I’m glad you seem to agree with everything. I definitely think that establishing credibility through tone and perhaps some type of unusual introduction right away is important in order to persuade readers that they should genuinely try to read through your entire piece. If they are entertained right away, I think there is a good chance that they will cut you some more slack in the middle of the essay. Instead of stopping immediately once they lose interest in the subject matter, perhaps they will be willing to give it more of a chance and continue reading with the hopes that it will become interesting to them again.

    Once an engaging piece has been established, I think the next order of business is to ensure that the actual ideas and arguments are clear and concrete, as you alluded to. From reading your initial draft, I thought you did a really nice job of pulling excerpts from some actual papers that you have written and then critiquing them accordingly. I think that is an effective strategy to SHOW readers what you are talking about, rather than strictly telling them. Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading your next draft!

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