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SOAPSTone: A Strategy for Reading and Writing

Introduction

❶What is the tone of the author? The group of readers to whom this piece is directed.

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Dissecting the Acronym
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Why is it important that the audience know who you are? How are they related to you? Why are you addressing them? How would you like your audience to respond? How will your attitude enhance the effectiveness of your piece? Choose a few words or phrases that will reflect a particular attitude. An essay that breaks a work of non-fiction into parts and then explains how the parts work together to create a certain effect—whether to persuade, entertain or inform.

The author of a speech or document or to the creator of an advertisement, cartoon, or other visual work. When writing a rhetorical analysis, you are NOT saying whether or not you agree with the argument. An artistic proof is created by the rhetorician and encompasses the appeals, canons, and most of the techniques given below. An inartistic proof is a proof that exists outside the rhetorician such as surveys, polls, testimonies, statistics, facts, and data.

Either type of proof can help make a case. An attempt to earn audience approval or agreement by playing to natural human tendencies or common experience. There are three kinds of appeals: The logical appeal uses reason to make a case.

Academic discourse is mostly logos-driven because academic audiences respect scholarship and evidence. The next step is to identify examples of these uncovered techniques in the text.

For example, in discussing the use of a didactic tone, you might point to the following sentence as an example: Next, address the effectiveness of each technique. We realize that the tone is ironic and that Miner is making a point about how Americans believe in magic and superstitions rather than being the enlightened, rational, and scientific creatures we imagine ourselves to be.

After brainstorming and doing the actual analysis, you are ready to write a thesis. Remember to choose the three or four techniques for which you can make the strongest case. Rhetoricians employ many techniques; focus on the ones that are the most prevalent or interesting and that you can describe persuasively. The thesis statement is developed, supported, and explained in the course of the paper by means of examples and evidence. An introduction should lead cleanly into your argument.

Remember that your argument begins with the first words of your paper. Each body paragraph should have its own topic sentence. Consider how you will organize the paragraphs. Will you discuss each technique—every instance of ethos, then every instance of pathos, and finally every instance of logos—then end with a discussion of the overall effectiveness?

Or will you review the essay in terms of the least effective technique to the most effective? Or will you use a chronological order, discussing each technique as it occurs sequentially?

For the Nacirema paper, for example, the first paragraph could focus on the academic tone, the second on diction, and the third on common ground. Your conclusion should briefly restate your main argument. SOAPSTone Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject, Tone is an acronym for a series of questions that students must first ask themselves, and then answer, as they begin to plan their compositions.

The voice that tells the story. Before students begin to write, they must decide whose voice is going to be heard: Regardless, students should determine how to insert and develop those attributes of the speaker that will influence the perceived meaning of the piece.

The time and the place of the piece; the context that prompted the writing. Writing does not occur in a vacuum. All writers are influenced by the larger occasion: Then there is the immediate occasion: The group of readers to whom this piece is directed. As they begin to write, students must determine who the audience is that they intend to address. It may be one person or a specific group.

This choice of audience will affect how and why students write a particular text. The reason behind the text. Students need to consider the purpose of the text in order to develop the thesis or the argument and its logic. Students should be able to state the subject in a few words or phrases.

This step helps them to focus on the intended task throughout the writing process. The attitude of the author.

With the written word, tone extends meaning beyond the literal, and students must learn to convey this tone in their diction choice of words , syntax sentence construction , and imagery metaphors, similes, and other types of figurative language.

The ability to manage tone is one of the best indicators of a sophisticated writer. In an effort to introduce this strategy into the classroom, the College Board created a one-day professional development workshop for language arts teachers in grades 6— The general format of this workshop is first to take participants through the same process students would use in analyzing examples of texts by professional writers and then in discovering and discussing the elements peculiar to each type.

Then, after dissecting each model, students are given a prompt for a composition of their own. The following example—in essence, simply a slightly blunter and swifter application of the SOAPSTone category descriptions given above—precedes the persuasive essay assignment:. Who is the S peaker? What details will you reveal? Why is it important that the audience know who you are? What is the O ccasion? How does your knowledge of the larger occasion and the immediate occasion affect what you are writing about?

Who is the A udience? What are the characteristics of this group?


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The following example—in essence, simply a slightly blunter and swifter application of the SOAPSTone category descriptions given above—precedes the persuasive essay assignment: Who is the S peaker?

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The Ultimate SOAPSTONE Analysis Guide for AP Exams When it comes to writing compositions in the free-response portion of AP exams, many students struggle with organization. They spend all of their time before the exam merely writing practice essays based on the prompts given to them.

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