What is good writing – Revisited

Good writing is knowing the rhetorical situation in which you will be involved. Rhetoric means the way in which you communicate something. Rhetoric can change one message to mean many different things in many different situations. Each situation calls for a different form of rhetoric, as each places you in a difference discourse community. A discourse community is any group that you are involved in, because it will hold a certain identity that needs to be accommodated to in order to follow the social norm for that group. For instance, you will act different in your classes with your professors than you would with your sport team, sorority or fraternity, or even at home with your roommates. A discourse group dictates how you dress, act, and even write. Writing an academic paper for your professor will be much different than shooting a text to your best friend about the party happening this weekend at your place. Knowing which discourse community you are currently acting in and changing your communication style to correctly fit while writing will yield the best results.

    Coming with knowing the discourse community that you are involved in, you must also be able to know which rhetorical device to use when addressing this specific community. These include logos, ethos, and pathos, each of which are a different way to rhetorically address a situation. Logos, or logical appeal, is a way of making a point that using evidence to back up an argument. For instance, when writing on a public forum discussing corporate social responsibility and trying to make my case to compete strangers, I made sure to make my point by using my personal experiences to show that I had logically knew a different point of view and by challenging others through reasoning. I had decided that “many people had already taken apart… and I decided to take a more simple approach of addressing the fact that he had actually used extremely subjective approach to the situation rather than looking at the broader picture of the good that these companies are actually able to produce in comparison to the individual.”

Ethos, or the trust appeal, is a way to show legitimacy and build trust. For instance, in an assignment where I had to teach beginners how to meditate I told them “Being a recent beginner myself, I wanted to outline the simple steps for other new beginners with still pictures that they could look at and try themselves. Meditation isn’t usually what people think, so I wanted to dispel some assumptions while giving a quick guide!”. Making them comfortable by telling them that I have experience being a beginner and that looking at the images will be the easiest way was the best way for me to tell the audience that I knew what it was like to be a beginner.

Pathos, or the emotional appeal, is a way to connect to the human emotion that we all feel, using words or scenarios that might make somebody feel a certain way that you would like them to feel. For example, when telling my classmates how I felt about writing, I said “writing that moves us and causes us to act or change our mind is writing that carries some sort of identity through it’s style and presentation. You know it’s good when you don’t want to put it down, and when it captures your attention and truthfully holds it. For me, it is in this connection with another’s humanness and the ability to turn ideas into words that constitutes good writing”. By using words that appeal to the readers’ emotions, I was able to carry my point across about my personal connection to writing.

Being able to use each of these in the context of the rhetorical situation will be rewarded with an audience that responds well to your writing. From here, even if you are not writing for an audience using ethos, it is important to always use evidence and reasons behind your assertions. Having sources, stories, or further explanation will always make a more solid piece of writing. After making sure to write towards your audience and in a way that will capture their attention and in which they will best understand, you then must edit your work! Being clean and concise is important, as no matter how correctly you aim your writing at a discourse group, if they cannot read it then it will not be understood.


And here is a video that further explains how a rhetorical situation works!



2 Responses to What is good writing – Revisited

  • Lixinting2012 says:

    Great writing Cassie! It’s great the way that you not only provide the definition of each of the terms but also gave an example of each. This is terrific for students ready for this class. It will give them great perspective and insight to what to expect.

  • richardcolby says:

    You did a fantastic job connecting rhetorical features and some other course concepts to what good writing is. This post is a clear argument for an incoming student population. The video link was a nice addition, but I would have preferred it as a hyperlink, or better yet, a preview link (no formatting, just the url would have made it a video preview in WordPress).

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