Thinking to Write Lesson W5: Types of Rhetorical Patterns to Consider

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Types of Rhetorical Patterns to Consider

NARRATION—The emphasis is upon telling a story. Explain what happened. Explain how it happened. Explain when it happened and the chronological order of events. Describe where it happened. Make clear the point of your narration–you are telling a story to make a point (not just for the sake of telling a story). Make sure that your verb tenses are consistent. Make use of other rhetorical patterns to build your narration.

DESCRIPTION—The emphasis is upon providing details from the perspective of any or all of the five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, feel). Make sure that the essay’s dominant impression (or thesis) is consistent throughout. Generate specific details; make sure that there are enough details to support the thesis or reinforce the dominant impression. Help readers visualize what you see in your mind. Describe what it looks like. Describe its characteristics. Make use of figures of speech. Avoid excessive details. Decide whether the essay is to be primarily an objective or subjective description. Make use of other rhetorical patterns to generate your illustrations.

DEFINITION—The emphasis is upon explaining the meaning of something. Declare what is that you are defining in the thesis statement. Explain why you are defining the term. Explain the term’s linguistic origin and development. Make use of synonyms to develop the definition. Make use of negation to develop the definition. Make use of enumeration to develop the definition. Make use of analogies to develop the definition. Make use of other rhetorical patterns to clarify your definition, especially if it is a complex (complicated) definition.

EXEMPLIFICATION—The emphasis is upon providing examples. The thesis should explain what it is exemplifying. The thesis should explain why the essay is providing these examples. Provide typical cases, situations, or types the subject matter. Make use of figures of speech. Avoid excessive details. Make use of other rhetorical patterns to illustrate your examples.

COMPARISON AND CONTRAST—The emphasis is upon a comparison/contrast between two or more subjects. Comparison: What two things are being compared? What basis for comparison exists between the two? How is it like other things? Contrast: What things are being contrasted? How are they different from each other? Make use of either a point-by-point or subject-by-subject arrangement. Point-by-point: each paragraph contrasts or compares the subjects in terms of a single point. Subject-by-subject: each paragraph makes all of the points of comparison or contrast about a single subject. Make use of other rhetorical patterns to demonstrate your points.

PROCESS—The emphasis is upon how something (a task, an item, an event, an idea) works, functions, or happens. What process does this essay describe (what is the thesis)? Is the essay a set of instructions or a process explanation? Does the writer include all the information the audience needs? Is any vital step or piece of information missing? Is any step or piece of information irrelevant? Is any necessary definition, explanation, or warning missing or incomplete? Are the steps presented in clear, logical order? Are they grouped logically into paragraphs? Make use of other rhetorical patterns to explain the process.

CAUSE AND EFFECT—The emphasis is upon the relationship between effects and the causes of those effects. Does the essay focus on causes, effects, or both? Does the thesis statement clearly identify this focus? Why did it happen? What caused it? What does it cause? What are its effects? Arrange the causes and/or effects in a coherent order. Use transitional words and phrases are to indicate causal connections. Avoid post hoc reasoning. Make use of other rhetorical patterns to illustrate your examples.

CLASSIFICATION AND DIVISION—The emphasis is upon dividing and/or classifying a larger concept into smaller parts or into one or more categories. Determine what whole is being divided into parts (or general categories) in your essay. What are its parts or types? Do its parts or types fit into a logical order? How can its parts or types be separated or grouped? Into what categories can its parts or types be arranged? Arrange the categories into a logical order, one that indicates their relationships to one another and their relative importance. Make sure that your topic sentences clearly signal the movement from one category to the next, as well as the essay’s direction and emphasis. Make use of other rhetorical patterns to distinguish your essay’s groups.

OPINION—What is the issue? Explain your position or opinion. What do you feel? What do you believe, and why? What do you think, and why? Make use of other rhetorical patterns to explain and support your opinion and make it clear.

ARGUMENTATION—The emphasis is upon supporting an opinion with logical reasoning and facts. (An argument is an opinion that has been empowered.) What is the issue? Explain your position or opinion. Do NOT explain what you feel. Do NOT explain what you believe. Explain what you think, and why. Provide logical reasons. Provide data: statistics, cases, and/or examples. Cite other established arguments. What is the opposing position? Make use of other rhetorical patterns to support your argument and make it clear.