Entice the Reader with Style

(Last Blog I wrote about Element #1: Sentence Variety)

Element #2: Add Rhetorical or Thought-provoking Questions

Adding a rhetorical question is a great way to add a “bang” to your introduction or body paragraphs and to push your essay to the next level.  The following essay response demonstrates how rhetorical questions can be used to effectively enhance your writing:

Assignment: “Can average people accomplish heroic feats?”

Start of an essay response:  What makes a hero?   Is it a cape and mask? Is it the power of X-Ray vision? To be heroic people do not need to exist in the realm of comic books.  Heroes are those who embrace integrity, courage, and empathy….

The questions are found smack in the beginning of the essay.  Wow!  Already the essay has me thinking, mentally answering the questions I have just read.  The questions draw the reader into the essay.  Note, though, that an essay should not contain more than two or three questions.  Too many questions turn your essay into a philosophical-sounding monster!   The three questions above also established repetition, the third element of style….

Element #3:  Use Repetition to Your Advantage

Your writing should be logical, balanced, and parallel if you want to leave an impact on your audience.  Repetition (anaphora is the technical name for this literary device) helps create this impact by selectively emphasizing certain ideas and by establishing continuity.  Stylistic repetition involves repeated, parallel words, phrases, or sentence structures.  The idea is to strategically pick a key word/phrase to repeat for emphasis.

Assignment: “Is it more important to consider the rights and goals of the group or the individual?”

Start of an essay response: The right to bear arms, the right to free speech, and the right to a fair trial – the rights of the individual must always trump the rights of a community.

In this opening sentence, “the right” is repeated to emphasize the point being made.  However, like Element #2, be careful not to overuse this literary technique within your writing and be careful not to simply create a shopping list.  Used correctly, this technique produces a powerful impact, and this is why many famous speeches contain anaphora (repetition) – think State of the Union address, presidential speeches, debates, and Julius Caesar’s lasting words,  “I came. I saw. I conquered!” 

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