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Introducing Convincing!

For the next portfolio, we will be working on an essay that builds on but goes beyond the strategies of reading, summarizing, and exploring. The main difference between the essays you have written so far and the convincing essay is that the essays you have written already were geared toward YOU. They helped you focus on realizing the claims of others with regard to "mankindís relationship to the environment" and explored your ability to respond to the claims of others. The next essay asks you to start with that foundation, but the audience changes. Instead of targeting yourself as the main audience, youíll 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, complete the following questions thoroughly, with as much detail as you can include in the time frame allotted.

  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 _____ is the best/worst in the world."
  2. Decide on a person or group to whom youíd 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 are 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. Having defined your audience, write out another version of your position, making it more specific and considering your audience. Try to include a general idea WHY your _____ is the best or worst in the world. Also try to word it so it appeals to the audience you have in mind.
  4. Now, start listing your REASONS for believing the thesis your wrote down in #3. Brainstorm a list of them. Donít stop until you have listed at least 6 to 10 reasons. At this point, donít worry about how good they are; just generate as many possibilities as you can.
  5. Look back at your reasons and think about your audience. Eliminate any reasons that you think they would 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 is the best order for them that would lead your audience along logically? Write down your remaining reasons in that order.
  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 will need.) Once you have answered that question, write down some examples of the evidence you might use to support each of your reasons.
  7. Finally, write out a short brief of what, based on you above answers, an essay on this position might look like. Donít worry about writing the whole essay; simply put it all in sentences in the order you think it would work best.