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Introducing ..... Convincing!

For the next portfolio, we'll be working on a totally different kind of essay, one that builds on but goes way beyond the strategies of reading, inquiring and exploring we've practiced so far. The main difference between the essays we've done so far and the first essay in the next portfolio (the convincing essay), is that the essays you've done were geared toward you. They helped you focus on an issue and understand individual arguments and conversations within that issue. The next essay asks you to start with that foundation, but the audience changes. Instead of targeting yourself as the main audience, this time you'll target an outside audience, possibly a hostile one, that you need to convince of your point of view on an issue. To get started thinking about the process of convincing, take the first half of the class to completely answer the following questions. We'll talk about them when we come together later. Don't hesitate to flag me down if you have questions!

  1. First, think about something in your life (a car, a bike, a dog, whatever) that you absolutely love or hate. Write out your idea in terms of the following sentence: "My X is the best/worst X in the world."
  2. Decide on a person or group to whom you'd like to make an argument based on the position you wrote for the last question and answer the following questions: Who is the audience you're targeting? Will they be friendly or hostile toward your position? What, generally, are they like and what do they care about the most? What sorts of things generally make them angry or turn them off?
  3. Once you're done determining your audience, write out another version of your position. This time, though, make it more specific. Try to include a general idea why your X is the best or worst in the world, and also try to word it so it appeals to the audience you have in mind.
  4. Now, start thinking about your reasons for believing the thesis you wrote above. Below, brainstorm a list of them. Don't stop until you've got at least 6-10 reasons. At this point, don't worry about how good they are--just spit out as many possibilities as you can.
  5. Look back at your reasons and think about your audience. Eliminate any reasons that you think they'd reject or be offended by. Then take the remaining list and think about the best order for them. Are there any that your audience would accept first? Are there any reasons that need to come before or after others? What's the best order for them that would lead your audience along logically? Write down your remaining reasons in that order here.
  6. Next, think about evidence. What kind and how much evidence would your audience need to buy each of your reasons? (Remember--the more hostile the audience the more evidence they'll need.) Once you've answered that question, write down some examples of the evidence you might use to support each of your reasons.
  7. Last but not least, write out a short brief of what, based on your above answers, an essay on this position might look like. Don't worry about writing the whole thing--just put it all in sentences in the order you think would work best.