○ Can be evocative, calling up memories or suggesting feelings associated with the
subject being described
○ Calls readers’ attention to observable features of the subject being described
○ ex) describing a room
■ Bed, pillows, blankets, dresser, clothes, books, laptop, etc.
○ Readers can put a mental image of the room into their head
○ Uses simple pronouns to describe the weasel
○ Piling up of concrete nouns helps readers imagine what the weasel looked like to
○ Vivid descriptions: name smells, sounds, tastes, and tactile qualities
○ What size is it?
○ What is it made of?
○ How many are there?
○ Where is it located?
○ What is its condition?
○ How is it used?
○ Where does it come from?
○ What is its effect?
○ What is its value?
○ To add details to names, add modifiers (adjectives and adverbs, phrases and
○ MODIFIERS- make nouns more specific by supplying additional information
○ Convey thoughts and feelings during the encounter
■ Dillard uses judgement to describe that the weasel is a wild animal, not a
○ Combine physical details with details characterizing aspects of the individual’s
■ ex) “My father, a fat, funny, man with beautiful eyes and a subversive
○ Physical details suggest a powerful, threatening character
○ Simile - similarity directly by using the words LIKE or AS to announce the
○ Metaphor - an implicit comparison in which one thing is described as though
it were the other ○ Can enhance the vividness of a description by giving readers additional
information to help the picture the subject
■ ex) the word thin to detail the weasel’s body shape
■ Thin is a RELATIVE TERM
■ Dillard gives the readers two images for comparison, a curve and a ribbon,
to help them construct a fuller mental image of the weasel
■ Can also convey how the writer feels about a subject
● USING SENSORY DESCRIPTION
○ Rely on the sense of sight more than the other senses
○ Identify objects within their field of vision
■ ex) “On Christmas Eve I saw that my mother had outdone herself in
creating a strange menu. She was pulling black veins out of the backs of
fleshy prawns. The kitchen was littered with appalling mounds of raw
food: A slimy rock cod with bulging eyes that pleaded not to be thrown
into a pan of hot oil. Tofu, which looked like stacked wedges of rubbery
white sponges. A bowl soaking dried fungus back to life. A plate of squid,
their backs crisscrossed with knife markings so they resembled bicycle
○ Describe what you heard
■ Reporting auditory impressions: name sounds without specifying what the
sounds come from
● ex) the murmur of a voice, the rustle of the wind, the squeak of a
■ Qualitative words specify further
■ synesthesia - applying words commonly used to describe one sense to
○ Describe what you smelled
■ Odor, vapor, fume, aroma, fragrance, perfume, bouquet, stench, stink
■ Repeated action of bringing the object being smelled to the nose
● Signifies the process of smelling with other acts of intimacy
○ Describe tactile sensations
■ Tend to not name the sensation directly or even to report the act of the
● ex) “A small slab of roughly finished concrete offered a place to
stand opposite a square of tar from which a splintered tee
○ Describe flavors
■ Sweet (saccharine, sugary, cloying)
■ Sour (acidic, tart) ■ Bitter (acrid, biting)
■ Salty (briny, brackish)
● CREATING A DOMINANT IMPRESSION
○ Dominant impression
■ Mood or an atmosphere that reinforces the writer’s purpose
■ Writers sometimes comment directly in a description to speak for itself
● SENTENCE STRATEGIES FOR DESCRIPTION
○ Must determine what is most relevant, important, or interesting about what they
are describing/the role that the description is playing
○ To describe as a participant:
■ As I tried to _______ like the, ______ I was surprised to find that ____.
■ I picked up X. It felt like ______, and it looked/smelled/tasted/sounded
○ To describe as a spectator:
■ On the other side of _______, a/an ________ appeared/came into view/did
■ X talked as he_____,”______,” he said.
○ To reflect on your observations:
■ The most interesting aspect of X is ________, because______: “______”
■ _______ makes X angry. She/he says it’s because ______: ______.”
○ Asserting a thesis
■ THESIS: asserts/states the main point of any argument you want to make
■ Must be clear and direct
○ Assertion of opinion
■ What is your position on a controversial issue?
○ Assertion of policy
■ What is your understanding of the problem, and what do you think should
be done to solve it?
○ Assertion of evaluation
■ What is your judgement of a subject?
○ Assertion of cause
■ What do you think made a subject the way it is?
○ Assertion of story analysis
■ What does a story mean, or what is significant about it?
○ Make arguable assertions ■ Thesis statements in reasoned arguments make possibilities/probabilities,
● ex) Jem has a Ph.D. in history.
● ex) I am less than five feet tall.
● ex) eucalyptus trees were originally imported into California from
○ Statements that assert facts
○ Can be easily verified
■ If a writer asserts something as a fact and attempts to support the assertion
with AUTHORITIES or STATISTICS, the resulting essay is not an
argument but a report
■ Expressions of personal feelings are not arguable assertions
■ Facts are unarguable because they can definitively proved true or false
○ Use clear and precise wording
■ A thesis is vague if its meaning is unclear
● Might have more than one possible meaning
● ex) “My English instructor is mad”
○ Teacher is mad/insane
■ Pay attention to the way you phrase your thesis and take care to avoid
vague and ambiguous language
○ Qualify the thesis appropriately
■ Make appropriate qualifications that suit your writing situation
■ Confident in a strong thesis, state emphatically and unconditionally
● GIVING REASONS AND SUPPORT
○ REASONS = main points for supporting thesis
○ Main kinds of support writers use:
■ Textual evidence
○ Following -> discussion and illustration of each kind of support
○ Use representative examples for support
■ Examples may be used for support in all types of argument
■ Use examples to support argument that human costs of illiteracy are high
○ Use up-to-date, relevant, and accurate statistics
■ Uses statistics to support claim
○ Cite reputable authorities on relevant topics
■ To support an argument, writers often cite experts on the subject ■ Respected authority - can add to a writer’s credibility
■ Specially qualified to contribute to the subject you are writing about
■ Informal citation - introduces the authority she quotes, along with a
reference to a professional qualification
■ Writers use formal citation to provide a list of works cited at the end of
their own writing
○ Use vivid, relevant anecdotes
■ ANECDOTES - brief stories about events/experiences
● If they are relevant to the argument, well told, and true to life, they
can be convincing
○ Use relevant textual evidence
■ Carefully selected to be relevant
■ Help readers see the connection between each piece of evidence and
reason it supports
■ Usually has more impact if it’s balanced between quotation and
paraphrase, and quotations must be integrated into the sense of the
● RESPONDING TO OBJECTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES
○ Three basic strategies
■ Acknowledging (aware of readers’ objections and questions)
■ Conceding (modify their position to accept readers’ concerns they think
■ Refuting (argue that readers’ objections may be invalid or that their
concerns may be irrelevant)
○ Acknowledge readers’ concerns
■ Show that you are aware of their point-of-view and take it seriously even
if you don’t agree with it
■ POSITIVE = acknowledge the readers’ objections by addressing the
directly, listing their possible objections, and discussing each one
○ Concede readers’ concerns
■ Decide to accept some of them and incorporate them into your own
argument (concession, all opposing views have merit)
○ Refute readers’ objections
■ Assert that they are wrong and argue against them
■ Does not have to be delivered arrogantly
■ peaceful/constructive way fro informed, well-intentioned people who
disagree strongly to air their difference
■ CONCEDE VS. REFUTE (p. 594)
● LOGICAL FALLACIES ○ Fallacies - errors/flaws in reasoning
○ Fallacious arguments seem plausible and often have great persuasive power
○ Not necessarily deliberate efforts to deceive readers
○ Begging the question
■ Arguing that a claim is true by repeating the claim in different words
○ Confusing chronology with causality
■ Assumind that because one thing preceded another, the former caused the
■ Assuming that there are only two sides to a question and representing
yours as the only correct one
■ Misleading with ambiguous word choices
○ False analogy
■ Assuming that because one thing resembles another, conclusions drawn
from one also apply to the other
○ Hasty generalization
■ Offering only weak/limited evidence to support a conclusion
○ Overreliance on authority
■ Assuming that something is true because an expert says so
■ Giving easy answers to complicated questions, by appealing to emotions
rather than logic
○ Red herring
■ Attempting to misdirect the discussion by raising an essentially unrelated
■ selecting/emphasizing the evidence that supports your claim and
suppressing/playing down other evidence
○ Slippery slope
■ Pretending that one thing inevitably leads to another
○ Sob story
■ Manipulating readers’ emotions to lead them to draw unjustified
○ Straw man
■ Directing the argument against the claim that nobody actually makes
○ Personal attack
■ Demeaning the proponents of a claim instead of refuting their argument
● SENTENCE STRATEGIES FOR ARGUMENT ○ To assert a position
■ When issue/event X happens, most people think _______, but I think
______ because ________.
■ Though others may view it as a matter of ______, for me, the issue hinges
○ To support a position
■ What makes X problematic/praiseworthy is_______.
■ Because ______, I support/oppose X.
○ To refute an opposing position
■ One problem with position Y is that _______.
■ Some claim position Y, but in reality______.
○ To concede an objection
■ I agree that ________.
■ _______ is certainly an important factor.
○ To concede and refute an objection
■ ______may be true for Y but not for X.
■ Although _______, I think _________.
● JUSTIFYING AN EVALUATION
● Determine the writer’s purpose and audience
○ What seems to be the writer’s main purpose?
○ What does the writer assume about the audience?
○ Access the genre's basic features
■ Read first to identify the subject of the review
■ Describe briefly in the opening paragraphs
■ Readers need different kinds of information from different genres
○ A well supported judgement
■ Identify the judgement the writer asserts, and determine whether the
reviewer thinks the subject is good/bad, better/worse, other things in the
■ Announce judgement in THESIS
● ex) What makes X a success/a failure is ______ and ______.
■ Examine thesis to see if the writer asserts an overall judgement
■ Note features of the subject that are being praised and the reasons
supporting the judgement
■ Notice whether the reviewer uses compare/contrast
■ Writers may concede (accept) or refute (argue against) alternatives,
providing a transition or other cues to alert readers ○ Basic structure of a concession
■ Of course, ________ is an important factor.
■ Granted, ________ must be taken into consideration.
○ Basic structure of refutation
■ Although ________, I think ______.
■ X says ________, but I think ______ because _______.
● Some viewers criticize film because they think that in the end it
fails as a romantic comedy
○ A clear, logical organization
■ Read to see if the viewer provides cues to help readers follow the logic of
● ex) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World can be appreciated and enjoyed by
all audiences BECAUSE of its intentive special effects, clever
dialogue, and artistic cinematography and editing. (par. 2)
■ Notice how the writer uses logical transitions (because)
■ Where visuals (film stills, cartoons, screen shots, diagrams) are included,
determine how they are integrated into the text
○ Make connections: binge-watching
■ Watching multiple episodes of the same show in a single setting
○ Use the basic features
■ A well presented subject; providing information
● Provide the kind of information readers expect to learn from the
film reviews (name of director and their well-known films)
■ A well-supported judgement: basing a judgement on criteria
● Assert the overall judgement of the subject in a thesis statement
that usually appears early in the review
● Make the overall judgement clear
● Use specific evaluative language
■ An effective response to objections and alternative judgements: conceding
and refuting alternative judgements
● Acknowledge an alternative judgement and then either refute or
○ Programs in the genre have been dismissed as _____. But
this misses the point because _______.
■ A clear, logical organization: cueing readers
● Interweave plot summary with analysis to support claims about the
○ Consider possible topics: offering a mixed judgement
■ Think of a subject which you have mixed feelings ■ What is your overall judgement?
■ What would you praise about your subject and what would you criticize?
○ Make connections: ideology underlying judgements
■ Ideology - refers to values and beliefs that influence people’s thinking
○ Use the basic features
■ A well-presented subject: introducing a complicated subject
■ A well-supported judgement: defining a criteria
■ An effective response to objections and alternative judgements: singling
out a comment for response
● Implied refutation
■ A clear, logical organization: using comparison and contrast
● Use transitional words and phrases or numbered lists
○ Consider possible topics: evaluating a text
■ List several texts you would consider evaluating
● Ex0 essay, children’s book, etc.
○ Make connections; evaluating social media
■ Reflect on your own observations and experiences with social media
○ What do I think?
■ List qualities of the subject that you like and dislike, or list its strengths
and weaknesses or advantages and disadvantages
● What makes X good/bad is _______, ________, and ________.
■ What genre or kind of subject is it?
● X is a ______ [name genre or category of subject]
○ What do my readers think?
■ Who are your readers, and why will they be reading your review?
● My readers are ______ and are probably reading my review to
learn about the subject/to decide whether to see it, play it, or buy it.
■ What criteria or standards of judgement do you usually use to evaluate
things of this kind?
● I expect X to be _______ or _______.
● I dislike it when X is ______.
■ How does your subject compare to other examples of the genre?
● Compared to Y, X has the best/worst ______[name trait.]
○ How can I asserta tentative overall judgement?
■ Begin by naming the subject
■ Identify the kind of subject it is
■ Value the terms to sta