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Writing Guide with Handbook

20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure

Writing Guide with Handbook20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
  1. Preface
  2. The Things We Carry: Experience, Culture, and Language
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 1 The Digital World: Building on What You Already Know to Respond Critically
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
      3. 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
      4. 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
      5. 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
      6. 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
      7. 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
      8. 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
      9. 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    3. 2 Language, Identity, and Culture: Exploring, Employing, Embracing
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 Seeds of Self
      3. 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
      4. 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
      5. 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
      6. 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
      7. 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
      8. 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
      9. 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    4. 3 Literacy Narrative: Building Bridges, Bridging Gaps
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 Identity and Expression
      3. 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
      4. 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
      5. 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
      6. 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
      7. 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
      8. 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
      9. 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
      10. 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
      13. Works Consulted
  3. Bridging the Divide Between Personal Identity and Academia
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 4 Memoir or Personal Narrative: Learning Lessons from the Personal
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
      3. 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
      4. 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
      5. 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
      6. 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
      7. 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
      8. 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
      9. 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
      10. 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    3. 5 Profile: Telling a Rich and Compelling Story
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
      3. 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
      4. 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
      5. 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
      6. 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
      7. 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
      8. 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
      9. 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
      10. 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
      11. Works Cited
    4. 6 Proposal: Writing About Problems and Solutions
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
      3. 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
      4. 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
      5. 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
      6. 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
      7. 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
      8. 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
      9. 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
      10. 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    5. 7 Evaluation or Review: Would You Recommend It?
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
      3. 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
      4. 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
      5. 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
      6. 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
      7. 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
      8. 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
      9. 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
      10. 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    6. 8 Analytical Report: Writing from Facts
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
      3. 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
      4. 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
      5. 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
      6. 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
      7. 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
      8. 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
      9. 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
      10. 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    7. 9 Rhetorical Analysis: Interpreting the Art of Rhetoric
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
      3. 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
      4. 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
      5. 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
      6. 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
      7. 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
      8. 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
      9. 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
      10. 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    8. 10 Position Argument: Practicing the Art of Rhetoric
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
      3. 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
      4. 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
      5. 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
      6. 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
      7. 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
      8. 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
      9. 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
      10. 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    9. 11 Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
      3. 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
      4. 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
      5. 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
      6. 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
      7. Further Reading
      8. Works Cited
    10. 12 Argumentative Research: Enhancing the Art of Rhetoric with Evidence
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
      3. 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
      4. 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
      5. 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
      6. 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
      7. 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
      8. 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
      9. 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
      10. 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    11. 13 Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
      3. 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
      4. 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
      5. 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
      6. 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
      7. 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
      8. Further Reading
      9. Works Cited
    12. 14 Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
      3. 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
      4. 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
      5. 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
      6. Further Reading
      7. Works Cited
    13. 15 Case Study Profile: What One Person Says About All
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
      3. 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
      4. 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
      5. 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
      6. 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
      7. 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
      8. 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
      9. 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
      10. 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
  4. Navigating Rhetoric in Real Life
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 16 Print or Textual Analysis: What You Read
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
      3. 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
      4. 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
      5. 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
      6. 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
      7. 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
      8. 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
      9. 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
      10. 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    3. 17 Image Analysis: What You See
      1. Introduction
      2. 17.1 “Reading” Images
      3. 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
      4. 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
      5. 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
      6. 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
      7. 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
      8. 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
      9. 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
      10. 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    4. 18 Multimodal and Online Writing: Creative Interaction between Text and Image
      1. Introduction
      2. 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
      3. 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
      4. 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
      5. 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
      6. 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
      7. 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
      8. 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
      9. 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    5. 19 Scripting for the Public Forum: Writing to Speak
      1. Introduction
      2. 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
      3. 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
      4. 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
      5. 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
      6. 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
      7. 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
      8. 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
      9. 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    6. 20 Portfolio Reflection: Your Growth as a Writer
      1. Introduction
      2. 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
      3. 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
      4. 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
      5. 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
      6. 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
      7. 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
      8. 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
      9. 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
  5. Handbook
  6. Index

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify conventions of reflection regarding structure, paragraphing, and tone.
  • Articulate how genre conventions are shaped by purpose, culture, and expectation.
  • Adapt composing processes for a variety of technologies and modalities.

Reflective writing is the practice of thinking about an event, an experience, a memory, or something imagined and expressing its larger meaning in written form. Reflective writing comes from the author’s specific perspective and often contemplates the way an event (or something else) has affected or even changed the author’s life.

Areas of Exploration

When you write a reflective piece, consider three main areas of exploration as shown in Figure 20.3. The first is the happening. This area consists of the events included in the reflection. For example, you will be examining writing assignments from this course. As you describe the assignments, you also establish context for the reflection so that readers can understand the circumstances involved. For each assignment, ask yourself these questions: What was the assignment? How did I approach the assignment? What did I do to start this assignment? What did I think about the assignment? If you think of other questions, use them. Record your answers because they will prove useful in the second area.

The second area is reflection. When you reflect on the happening, you go beyond simply writing about the specific details of the assignment; you move into the writing process and an explanation of what you learned from doing the work. In addition, you might recognize—and note—a change in your skills or way of thinking. Ask yourself these questions: What works effectively in this text? What did I learn from this assignment? How is this assignment useful? How did I feel when I was working on this assignment? Again, you can create other questions, and note your responses because you will use them to write a reflection.

The third area is action. Here, you decide what to do next and plan the steps needed to reach that goal. Ask yourself: What does (and does not) work effectively in this text? How can I continue to improve in this area? What should I do now? What has changed in my thinking? How would I change my approach to this assignment if I had to do another one like it? Base your responses to these questions on what you have learned, and implement these elements in your writing.

As shown in this circular diagram, reflective writing includes the happening, reflection about the happening, and then an action that will result from the reflection about the happening.
Figure 20.3 Elements of reflective writing (attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY 4.0 license)

Format of Reflective Writing

Unlike thesis statements, which often come at the beginning of an essay, the main point of a piece of reflective writing may be conveyed only indirectly and nearly always emerges at the end, almost like an epiphany, or sudden realization. With this structure, readers are drawn into the act of reflecting and become more curious about what the writer is thinking and feeling. ln other words, reflective writers are musing, exploring, or wondering rather than arguing. In fact, reflective essays are most enlightening when they are not obviously instructive or assertive. However, even though reflective writing does not present an explicit argument, it still includes evidence and cohesion and provides lessons to be learned. As such, elements of persuasion or argument often appear in reflective essays.

Discovery through Writing

Keep in mind, too, that when you start to reflect on your growth as a writer, you may not realize what caused you to explore a particular memory. In other words, writers may choose to explore an idea, such as why something got their attention, and only by recalling the details of that event do they discover the reason it first drew their attention.

When you tell the story of your writing journey this semester, you may find that more was on your mind than you realized. The writing itself is one thing, but the meaning of what you learned becomes something else, and you may deliberately share how that second level, or deeper meaning or feeling, emerged through the act of storytelling. For example, in narrating a writing experience, you may step back, pause, and let readers know, “Wait a minute, something else is going on here.” An explanation of the new understanding, for both you and your readers, can follow this statement. Such pauses are a sign that connections are being made—between the present and the past, the concrete and the abstract, the literal and the symbolic. They signal to readers that the essay or story is about to move in a new and less predictable direction. Yet each idea remains connected through the structure of happenings, reflections, and actions.

Sometimes, slight shifts in voice or tone accompany reflective pauses as a writer moves closer to what is really on their mind. The exact nature of these shifts will, of course, be determined by the writer’s viewpoint. Perhaps one idea that you, as the writer, come up with is the realization that writing a position argument was useful in your history class. You were able to focus more on the material than on how to write the paper because you already knew how to craft a position argument. As you work through this process, continue to note these important little discoveries.

Your Writing Portfolio

As you recall, each chapter in this book has included one or more assignments for a writing portfolio. In simplest terms, a writing portfolio is a collection of your writing contained within a single binder or folder. A portfolio may contain printed copy, or it may be completely digital. Its contents may have been created over a number of weeks, months, or even years, and it may be organized chronologically, thematically, or qualitatively. A portfolio assigned for a class will contain written work to be shared with an audience to demonstrate your writing, learning, and skill progression. This kind of writing portfolio, accumulated during a college course, presents a record of your work over a semester and may be used to assign a grade. Many instructors now offer the option of, or even require, digital multimodal portfolios, which include visuals, audio, and/or video in addition to written texts. Your instructor will provide guidelines on how to create a multimodal portfolio, if applicable. You can also learn more about creating a multimodal portfolio and view one by a first-year student.

Key Terms

As you begin crafting your reflection, consider these elements of reflective writing.

  • Analysis: When you analyze your own writing, you explain your reasoning or writing choices, thus showing that you understand your progress as a writer.
  • Context: The context is the circumstances or situation in which the happening occurred. A description of the assignment, an explanation of why it was given, and any other relevant conditions surrounding it would be its context.
  • Description: Providing specific details, using figurative language and imagery, and even quoting from your papers helps readers visualize and thus share your reflection. When describing, writers may include visuals if applicable.
  • Evaluation: An effective evaluation points out where you faltered and where you did well. With that understanding, you have a basis to return to your thoughts and speculate about progress you will continue to make in the future.
  • Observation: Observation is a close look at the writing choices you made and the way you managed the rhetorical situations you encountered. When observing, be objective, and pay attention to the more and less effective parts of your writing.
  • Purpose: By considering the goals of these previous assignments, you will be better equipped to look at them critically and objectively to understand their larger use in academia.
  • Speculation: Speculation encourages you to think about your next steps: where you need to improve and where you need to stay sharp to avoid recurring mistakes.
  • Thoughts: Your thoughts (and feelings) before, during, and after an assignment can provide you with descriptive material. In a reflective essay, writers may choose to indicate their thoughts in a different tense from the one in which they write the essay itself.

When you put these elements together, you will be able to reflect objectively on your own writing. This reflection might include identifying areas of significant improvement and areas that still need more work. In either case, focus on describing, analyzing, and evaluating how and why you did or did not improve. This is not an easy task for any writer, but it proves valuable for those who aim to improve their skills as communicators.

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© Dec 8, 2021 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a CC BY license. The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.