Writing Knowledge and Strategies from16F
1. Using the active voice
2. Including a motive formula
3. Re-stating my thesis
4. Structure of claims followed by evidence
5. Making a thorough outline
6. Writing with audience in mind
7. Re-stating ideas
8. Making multiple revision plans
9. Thinking about the purpose of a document
Through most of the persuasive writing I did in high school, I prioritized content over structure and readability. I thought that most of what mattered was the level of thought behind the ideas I presented. While complexity of ideas is important, it’s really only half of the equation, and I’ve realized that I neglected to employ the techniques I needed to get these ideas across to an audience. Because of this, I wasn’t building credibility. During the 16F term, I’ve learned a host of valuable skills in this area. The most transformative for my essays has been organizational. I’ve learned to assume a structure of claims followed by supporting evidence, and this has made my writing much more clear and persuasive. The claim/evidence structure has improved the relevance of my content, and made my essays flow more smoothly and intuitively. In Project 1, I still hadn’t quite grasped the concept, but during the revision process for Project 2 I had a small epiphany regarding this strategy. In both Project 3 and the final draft of Project 2 I was able to fully employ this structure, and I saw improved strength of my arguments in both cases.
My Project 2 document was a resarch paper about urban farming in Cleveland, OH and in the middle of my revision process my organization was still somewhat random. I would start paragraphs off by stating a new point, but then I would simply elaborate on what that meant rather than give evidence. However, during my conference I came to understand the claim+evidence structure and took advantage of it in my final draft. My “Methods” section, for example, started off with a claim about the current state of globalization that read “In most places throughout the world, societal relationships in the 21st century have changed and are still changing vastly as an effect of globalization.” I then went on to support this with evidence from David J. Hess’s Localist Movements in a Global Economy. I cited his definitions of globalization on economic, political, and personal scales and his descriptions of its implications. My next claim read, “In America, this trend of globalization involves the food market’s domination by large corporations and the outsourcing of goods and labor,” and supported it with a statistic about factory farming and a description of industrial agriculture from an outside source to feed into my own explanation. I then established the urban agriculture movement as a response to this, and backed that up with quotes from several academic sources. By introducing these background claims with evidence, I had set up a platform for my next arguments.
The “Results” section of my Project 2 final draft was the first time I’d really used the claim-evidence structure as a backbone for a discussion. Instead of trying to work through ideas that would lead to one big claim, I started every paragraph out with a case-level claim. Then I added primary-source evidence, and in the next paragrpah I added scholarly sources that supported the claim. For example, my first one was about the connection between production and consumption in urban agriculture, and I used information from an individual farm’s website to provide proof. Then I brought up more evidence from another perspective. The rest of my results section followed suit, and the result was an organized stream of clear ideas that were credible because of the outside voices I incorporated. The entirety of the essay was more persuasive and less biased because I took the time to think about my individual points and make sure I could back them up wi information from the world outside my own head.
Project 3 was very different from the research paper format, but I found the claim-evidence structure just as useful in new ways. In particular, I realized here that I could have claims within claims. For example, I made my first point on my landing page about the importance of quiet public spaces, backed up by a few adacemic voices. Then I made a supporting claim about how “public privacy” was the key ingredient to these spaces, and tied this in to the space I was analyzing. Another level was my point about the importance of cachets, backed up with information from Dean Siatta. Lastly, my innermost claims were about individual design elements of the space. These claims were supported by the features of the space. However, they were also evidence themselves, giving credibility to the larger-level claims about what the purpose of the space.
Additionally, the website platform allowed me to organize my argument by creating distinct pages for each idea. I originally had my pages divided by senses to give viewers an immersive experience of the space. However, while this was an interesting way to divide my claims, it didn’t make the most sense in supporting my argument. Here, I learned that the relevance of the claims is also important. I ended up creating pages titled “Cachet,” “Publicity,” and “Privacy” to delineate the most important traits about the place I was discussing. Within these pages, I gave evidence by listing individual features that influenced each characteristic, and included a photo to illustrate each one. Combined with my structure, these photos were an essential part of the persuasiveness of my project, as they provided a type of hard evidence that is difficult to get through writing alone. Project 3 was nice in this way because I had a constant sources of verification for my claims.
This term I was shown the importance of a claim-evidence structure for persuasive writing, I learned it’s advantages by implementing it in different contexts and platforms. The research paper format of Project 2 was very straightforward and I could easily fit claims and evidence into my document. Project 3 was much more freeform, and through this I was able to adapt this structure and find out more about what it could really do. The relationships between audience, author, and source can be really constructive when information is presented in an understandable way, and can be connected to a wider context through the evidence used to support it. Ultimately, this lead to writing that seemed more relevant and more important, beause as an author I started considering how my audience would read through my document and how my ideas were connected to broader experiences.