How to Write a Good Rhetorical Essay

How to Write a Good Rhetorical Essay

Knowing how to write a good rhetorical essay is very important because rhetoric study is very common in universities and colleges. A rhetorical essay is an essay in which the writer breaks down a non-fiction work into parts that are explained with consideration of the way the parts work as one piece in creating a certain effect. The created effect can be informing, entertaining or persuading- follow the link for more details. While most rhetorical analysis essays analyze anything ranging from a poem to an advertisement or a painting, most rhetorical analysis essays are written on persuasive pieces. They analyze how well the writers of persuasive pieces accomplish their goals via their writing.

Specific conventions or guidelines on how to write a good rhetorical essay

There are writing conventions that you should follow when writing your rhetorical essay- follow the link for more information. Your instructor will give you guidelines that you should follow while analyzing the work and writing your essay.

However, you must also follow these conventions:

  • Use simple present tense sentences in analyzing the text.
  • Use “the audience” or “the reader” while referring to yourself. Avoid using first person in your rhetorical essay.
  • Use textual evidence such as paraphrases and direct quotations in supporting your claims.

Since your instructor may have given you other guidelines to follow, double-check the assignment sheet before you start writing the rhetorical essay.

Steps to follow when writing a good rhetorical essay

There is no specific, perfect format for organizing a rhetorical essay. However, the enemy is not the organization of a rhetorical essay but failure to consider the demands of this writing task. However, there are general steps that you can follow to plot out your entire essay.

  1. Write a good introduction

Once you have read or studied the work that you are required to analyze, come up with an introduction that clearly states the article, advertisement, essay or document that you are analyzing. In most cases, the work that is being analyzed is referred to as a text. The introduction of a good rhetorical essay should inform readers about the rhetorical situation.

In the introduction, do the following:

  • Tell readers that you are writing a rhetorical essay. If you do not do that, readers might expect you to evaluate argument or take positions in the essay.
  • State the text, document or work that you will be analyzing in the essay. You can also provide relevant background information regarding the development or history of the work. You can use a narrative summary of the work though it should be short. Make it brief and quick especially when dealing with a large text or work.
  • Provide a rundown of the rhetorical situation. Tell readers whether the author succeeded in accomplishing the purpose. Narrow the focus to specific aspects of the work that you will be analyzing.
  1. Create a thesis statement for your rhetorical essay

A thesis statement is usually included as the last or second last sentence in the introduction of a rhetorical essay. A good thesis statement shows that the writer of the essay knows how to write a good rhetorical essay because it tells readers about the purpose of the essay. A thesis statement can be one sentence or two sentences that are specific and clear informing readers about what they should expect in the rest of the essay. A good thesis statement of a rhetorical essay should also outline specific tools that will be analyzed in the essay and how they contribute to the overall argument of the author.

  1. Tools or rhetorical strategies

After writing the introduction, you should now move on to the body where you analyze the work or text in details. In the body, you discuss the tools or thesis strategies that the author or creator of the work under analysis uses. Rhetorical strategies or tools refer to anything that is used by the author or creator of the work in an attempt to change the feelings or thoughts of the audience.

Such tools or strategies include:

  • Figurative language: This includes similes and metaphors. These are used to create comparisons and they enable the audience to visualize the ideas of the author better.
  • Analogies: These are the general comparisons made by the author or using historical precedents.
  • Ethos: This refers to the way the author uses a tone or shows credentials that enable him/her to establish credibility.
  • Pathos: This is the rhetorical appeal to the emotions of the audience. Pathos can be used by employing emotional language or telling personal stories.
  • Logos: This refers to the logical use of different ideas by the author and the way the author arrives at the conclusions.
  • Repetition: The author may repeat a phrase or word to enhance memory recall. When something is repeated severally, there is a tendency for the audience to believe it.
  • Diction: An author can use emotionally-charged words or a words’ pattern to pass a message or create a theme.
  • Standout sentences: These are sentences that are written with an aim of grabbing the attention of the audience.
  • Cause-effect argumentation: This entails telling readers what may follow the other.
  • Tone: This includes the use of specific stylistic devices to create a tone such as sarcasm.
  • Contrast: The writer can contrast ideas to indicate his or her position or to indicate the weaker view.
  • Detail selection: This refers to the way the author decided what to show readers and what to hide from them.
  • Addressing opposition: The author can show the absurd nature of the opposition’s views instead of arguing his or her position.
  1. Consider the audience

Perhaps, one of the major indicators of how well you know how to write a good rhetorical essay is how you examine the text for clues regarding the audience. Readers of your essay should know whether the work that you analyzed was intended for a specific audience or a general audience. They should also see from your analysis whether the audience already thinks or knows about the subject or topic at hand. If they know about it, what do they not know about it? What is the relevance or historical setting of the work? Are there recent experiences of the audience in relation to the subject? What is the mindset or attitude of the audience towards the subject or topic?

Be careful when reading prompts regarding the audience to get clues about them. Note that effective persuaders take time to understand the concerns, predilections, and weaknesses of their audience. Therefore, include a well thought out analysis of the audience in the body of your rhetorical essay. Tell your readers what the author wants the audience to feel or think after reading the work. This entails telling readers how and why the author wants the audience to feel or think.

  1. Write the conclusion of your rhetorical essay

The conclusion of your rhetorical essay should zoom out. It should address the entire argument. After reading the introduction and the body of your rhetorical essay, readers should get to a destination that is different from where they were before reading the essay. Give an overview of the tools, weaknesses and strengths of the work that you have been analyzing and reinforce the reason for believing that the work proves ineffective or effective-, follow the link for more information.

Bonus hints on how to write a good rhetorical essay

  • Do not try to argue in your rhetorical essay. Instead, focus on how the creator or author of the work that you are analyzing tries to make his/her point rather than whether it is good or bad.
  • Avoid using “In conclusion…” Although you may have been taught to use this phrase in ending your essays, do not use it especially when writing high education level essays. This is because the phrase and information that follows is empty and it tends to clutter up the last paragraph-, follow the link for more information.
  • Avoid introducing new information in the conclusion. The conclusion should provide an overview of the entire essay while giving vital details of your essay in a brief manner.

Use rhetorical essay samples

Most people who know how to write a good rhetorical essay have used well written samples as their writing guide at some point.  If you are struggling with a rhetorical essay writing assignment, using well-written samples can also be a good way to start.

Here are links to rhetorical essay samples:

Get professional help with your rhetorical essay

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