The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing
Closed-form writing consists of
• An explicit thesis in the introduction that informs readers of the point of the entire essay • Unified and coherent paragraphs
• Sustained development of that thesis without digressions
Open-form prose consists of
• No reduction to a single, summarizable thesis
• The use of story or narrative as an organizing principle through which a point emerges suggestively • Focus of open-form prose is more like a theme in fiction
The thesis statement is the main point a writer wants to make in an essay
• Behind every thesis statement is an explicit or implied thesis question, which is the problem or issue to which the thesis responds • An essay’s thesis statement is actually the writer’s proposed answer to this question; this question has propelled the writer’s thinking
Rhetoric is the study of how human beings use language and other symbols to influence the attitudes, beliefs, and actions of others
• Rhetoric is the art of making messages persuasive
• To think rhetorically, writers consider questions like these:
Purpose: What am I trying to accomplish in this paper? What do I want my readers to know believe, see, or do?
Audience: Who are my intended readers, and what are their values and assumptions? What do they already know or believe about my subject? How much do they care about it?
Genre: What kind of document am I writing? What are its requirements for structure, style, and document design?
In order to stimulate writing, “wallow in complexity”
• Wallowing in complexity involves asking open-ended questions that focus on unknowns or uncertainties rather than single, correct answers • Good open-ended questions invite multiple points of view or alternative hypotheses
A strong thesis statement surprises readers with something new or challenging...