Writing body paragraphs for Essay 3

November 26, 2019

Each paragraph in a research essay like Essay 3 has a basic design, determined by its topic sentence.

To carry out the design, a paragraph might contain a group of reasons or examples to illustrate its main point, or an extended explanation to develop that idea in greater detail.

These are the same paragraph designs that you have used in Essay 1 and Essay 2. What makes Essay 3 essay different is the fact that material is assembled from a source.

The point I want to make is that the outline of your essay dictates which evidence should be included in each paragraph.

Use the Outline Form that I passed out last week to help you with your body paragraphs.

Points to keep in mind:

1. Each paragraph in Essay 3 should possess a main idea, usually expressed in the topic sentence, that supports the development of your thesis.

That topic controls the selection and arrangement of all the research in the paragraph. Everything that is included should develop and support that single idea.

2. The body of the paragraph should contain information taken from your source.

The number of sources you include in that paragraph depends on the number of authors in your research who have discussed the point that you are making.

3. The sentences of your completed paragraph should be easy to read, coherent, and unified.

Integrate your source (using a signal phrase and quotation marks and an in-text citation) so your reader won’t be distracted and the source will smoothly integrate into your own sentence.

Don’t forget to acknowledge your source. You will avoid plagiarism by using a signal phrase and in-text citation.

Drafting Essay 3

November 26, 2019

Remember our basics of a good argument essay:

It takes a strong and definition position on the issue

It gives good reasons and supporting evidence to defend that position

It considers an opposing view

It has energy from start to finish

Make sure that you begin by drafting an outline before you start writing. These elements should appear in your outline:

Presentation of the issue

A clear position (your position on the issue)

Reasons and support

Inclusion of an opposing view or objection

Your organization might change over time – and that’s fine. You can move these elements around to make your essay more effective.

Most argument essays, however, are organized by order of importance, starting with the least importance point and saving the most convincing reason and evidence for last.

So save the point you think is the strongest or most important reason why you take the position you do for the last section of your essay.

Once you’ve drafted an outline like this, you can try out a few ways of starting your essay. (We talked about this last week: Use the idea of entering the conversation about this topic to jump start your essay).

To engage your readers from the start, consider the following moves:

An anecdote (from Stevenson’s book?)

A surprising statement (from one of your research articles?)

An assertion of the issue’s importance – the number of people affected or the consequence for voter turnout, etc. (like Chung’s article)

Statistics? (like Chung)

Essay 3 Thesis statements and introductions

November 18, 2019

You might be asking yourself: “How do I get started? I don’t know where to begin …”

Remember what we said in the beginning of the semester: effective academic writing resides not just in stating your own ideas, but in

listening closely to others around you

summarizing their positions in a way that they will recognize

responding with your own ideas in kind

Think of essay writing as entering a conversation: using what others have said as a launching pad for your own thoughts.

You are writing an essay about the voting rights of ex-felons. This is a timely and controversial issue; many people have written articles and Op-Eds and studies about this issue.

I’ve handed out, for example, what Jean Chung of the Sentencing Project has written about felony disenfranchisement laws, and you are entering that conversation, responding to what Chung and others have said.

So if you think of your essay as a response to the arguments of others, you’ll get past the fear of the blank page.

Many writers make this rhetorical move explicit in their writing with sentences like these:

Some argue that _______________________. According to this view, _______________________. My own view is that ______________. Though I acknowledge that _____________, I still maintain that _______________________.

These are rhetorical moves that allow you to engage in the kinds of critical thinking that you are required to do in this class and at the college level.

When you enter a conversation, that rhetorical move provides your opening paragraph.

If you’re stuck getting started, try using a template such as this:

In recent discussions of ____________________, a controversial issue is whether _____________________. While some argue that _________________, others contend that ________________.

Look at how this template works perfectly for Essay 3:

In discussions of voting rights, a controversial issue is whether people who have been convicted of felonies should be allowed to vote. While some argue that ex-felons have given up the right to participate in elections, others contend that the laws regarding ex-felons need to be reformed.

You see how this is a summary of what “they say” about this topic? This summary would then be followed by your thesis.

Think of it this way:


Los Angeles Times front page article: “Felons’ restored voting rights in peril”

November 11, 2019

Below is a link to the Los Angeles Times front-page article from today’s paper about the felon votings rights issue you are writing about in Essay 3.

An interesting article that provides good background to the issue and uses the case of Curtis Bryant, Jr. to explain the stakes involved for people like him.


Basic Features of an Essay Arguing a Position

November 9, 2019

What are the key elements of this type of essay?

• A readable plan

Essays arguing a position need to explain the issue, provide a reasoned argument, and counter argue objections.

To make sure their essays are easy to read, writers usually include the following:

a forecast of the argument (thesis statement)

key words introduced in the thesis and a forecasting statement

topic sentences introducing paragraphs

repeated use of key words

clear transitional words and phrases

• A well-presented issue

To inform readers about an issue’s seriousness and arouse readers’ concern, writers may

give examples or statistics that show how many people are affected by the issue and how they are affected

use scenarios or anecdotes that resonate with readers’ own experience and raise their concern

quote authorities or research to show that the issue deserves attention.

This is where your three scholarly sources come in.

• A well-presented position

Are the statements asserted to be facts widely accepted as true and complete?

Are cited authorities or sources trustworthy?

• An effective counterargument

Does the writer respond to possible objections readers might raise?

Does the writer acknowledge other concerns or other points of view?

Does the writer concede an objection and modifying the argument?

Does the writer refute readers’ possible objections?

Resources for Essay 3

November 9, 2019

Web sites:

The Brennan Center for Justice
The Equal Justice Initiative
The Sentencing Project
felonvoting.procon.org (procon.org)

The pro/con web site is especially helpful for getting arguments on both sides of the issue.

When you go to these pages, go to the search box and type in “felony disenfranchisement.”

Ideas for writing and revising Essay 2

November 3, 2019

• Writing an effective introduction

As we’ve discussed, make sure your introduction explains Stevenson’s purpose in writing the book and how these rhetorical appeals help him achieve that purpose (your thesis).

Ask yourself: Is Stevenson’s purpose in writing the book to inform? To persuade? To raise awareness?

Why do writers use the appeals to logic (logos), emotion (pathos) or authority (ethos)? Answer that question in your introduction.

• Writing effective body paragraphs

Your topic sentences in your body paragraphs for this essay should explain:

why the author uses that specific rhetorical appeal, and
why the appeal is important for him to achieve his purpose in writing the book.

It’s also a good idea to define the appeal that you are discussing in each of your body paragraphs.

What, exactly, is the appeal to logos? Pathos? Or Ethos?

That definition in your body paragraphs will lead to your explanation about why the appeal to logic (logos) or emotions (pathos) or the appeal to experience or knowledge or credibility (ethos) is important for his purpose.

Also, use your topic sentences as transitions to move your reader from one idea to the next and one example to the next.

Stevenson uses the appeal pathos in order to _______________.

In addition to pathos, Stevenson appeals to logos as a way to ___.

And finally, Stevenson also appeals to ethos in order to establish ________.

When you cite an example of the book, remember to give the passage a little set-up and context, so the reader understands what scene you are talking about.

Refer to the “Quotation Sandwich” hand-out I passed out last week.

Pretend your reader has not read the book – that’s a good rule of thumb for doing an effective analysis like this.

And also, make sure that you analyze the example you discuss.

Don’t get bogged down in summarizing what’s going on in the passage – try to explain the interaction between the author and the reader.

What emotions, for example, is the author trying to rouse in the readers?

Why does the author give a bunch of facts, stats, numbers in the book?

Why does he talk about his background or his training in that section of the book?

• Writing an effective conclusion

Use your conclusion paragraph to summarize what you’ve just discussed in terms of the Stevenson’s use of these appeals.

Explain what the book would be like without these appeals – not as effective or persuasive or informative.

And give your essay a title that connects with the essay topic and prepares the reader for what your essay will cover. A simple title is good, such as:

Rhetorical Appeals in Just Mercy

Stevenson’s Appeals to Emotions in Just Mercy

The use of ethos, pathos and logos in Just Mercy

Close reading for Essay 2

October 24, 2019

A rhetorical analysis assignment like Essay 2 requires you to do a close reading of the book – in other words, you must discuss the words and phrases that Stevenson uses to achieve his effects.

You have to show how and why Stevenson uses the appeal and how that appeal connects to your topic sentence (and your thesis).

A sample rhetorical analysis paragraph:

Let’s say you wanted to discuss why Stevenson included the moment in the Introduction where Henry suddenly starts singing as he’s taken away by the prison guard.

You could write something like: “Another example of Stevenson using the appeal to pathos occurs with the moment when the condemned prisoner Henry sings a hymn in the beginning of the book. This passage portrays Henry as a sad and lost man locked behind bars.”

OK – that’s a good start. But this wouldn’t be sufficient in terms of a rhetorical analysis of that page.

This is more of a summary of that passage than a developed analysis of how the passage works.

What, exactly, does Stevenson say here about Henry and himself?

What words or phrases does he use to convey the emotions of this scene?

How does the language Stevenson uses help him convey the emotions he wants his readers to feel?

Point out the specific words he uses in that paragraph.

Which emotions is he trying to rouse in his reader? Name them. Be specific.

And remember to finish this paragraph by explaining how it connects to Stevenson’s overall purpose:

If your thesis, for example, is that Stevenson uses the appeal to pathos to give a human dimension to the problems in the criminal justice system, you need to explain:

Why is that human dimension important for Stevenson’s purpose?

Here’s an outline of this paragraph:

Topic Sentence: Stevenson’s use of the appeal to pathos and why this type of appeal in important to his purpose in writing the book.

Evidence/Example/Details: Henry singing in the Introduction; which emotions Stevenson rouses in his readers by including this scene in the book, and how he uses language to evoke those emotions.

Summary: Explain why Stevenson includes this scene in the introduction and explain how this moment connects to Stevenson’s purpose in writing the book.

Transition: A transition sentence to the next rhetorical appeal that you will discuss.

Writing effective body paragraphs for Essay 2

October 24, 2019

Remember our formula for effective body paragraphs – the word TEST:

Topic Sentence
Summary Statement

Let’s go through these one by one:

1. Topic Sentence: Unifies your paragraph

Remember, each paragraph in the body of your essay should have its own topic sentence.

For the topic sentence for this assignment, make sure that you explain the definition of the rhetorical strategy or appeal you are writing about.

Use the questions I have provided to you in the essay assignment hand-out to help you focus your body paragraphs:

What is the definition of the rhetorical strategy or appeal you are writing about?

Writers use the appeal to pathos in order to …

The appeal to pathos is used by writers to …

What is your evaluation of Stevenson’s use of that appeal in regard to his purpose?

Stevenson’s appeal to ethos is effective in this chapter because …

How does the example in this paragraph illustrate the use of that strategy?

This moment in Chapter 2 illustrates how Stevenson appeals to …

How does this example contribute to Stevenson’s purpose?

In order to achieve this purpose, Stevenson uses the appeal to … in order to …

2. Evidence: Supports your paragraph’s topic sentence (an example of the appeal you are writing about)

You need to find concrete examples of Stevenson using this appeal in his book.

As I say in the criteria for evaluation, I’m looking for clear and specific evidence that he does use these means of persuasion.

How does the example in your body paragraph illustrate the use of that appeal?

3. Summary statement: (explaining why Stevenson uses that appeal)

How does this example contribute to his purpose? (Use the summary statement to link back to your thesis)

4. Transitions: (lead your reader smoothly from one example to the next)

In addition to using the appeal to emotions, Stevenson also uses the appeal to …

Another example of how Stevenson appeals to the emotions occurs in the first chapter …

Essay 2: Writing the draft

October 24, 2019

If you’re stuck in how to get started, look at page 2 of the essay assignment.

There are some tips and ideas on how to brainstorm your introduction.

The introduction paragraph of a rhetorical analysis essay like Essay 2 should provide information about what you will be writing about.

Make sure that you introduce Stevenson and his book. (This is one of the criteria for evaluation I mention on the first page of the assignment.)

You could begin your introduction by starting with a discussion about why and how writers use rhetorical appeals to achieve their purpose.

That you could lead you into your discussion of Stevenson’s book and his purpose and his use of rhetorical appeals.

Keep this formula in mind for your introduction:


What is his purpose in writing the book, and how do appeals connect to that purpose?

Think of your introduction as an upside-down triangle:

The wider base at the beginning is your discussion of writers and why/how they use rhetorical appeals; and the tip of your triangle is your thesis about how Stevenson uses appeals in his book to achieve his purpose.

You should also mention in your introduction:

which appeals you will be discussing, and

how successful Stevenson is in using those appeals to achieve his purpose (this is your thesis).

• Body paragraphs

Write one paragraph on each of the rhetorical strategies and appeals that you mention in your introduction.

Keep this formula in mind:

1 appeal or means of persuasion=1paragraph

The assignment requires you to include at least three examples from the book, so you will need to write at least three well-developed body paragraphs with an analysis of how each passage displays that rhetorical appeal.

(Note: As I mentioned last week, you can use the phrases “rhetorical appeal” or “means of persuasion” or “appeal to ethos” or “appeal to logos” or “appeal to pathos” in your essay. All are acceptable.)

Keep this point in mind: All of your body paragraphs need to explain

how Stevenson uses that appeal to the reader,

and how these appeals connect back to his purpose in writing the book.