Slide 1 - Zoccola Eng 050 Section 53 Spring 2012

Report
Paint Me a Picture: The
Illustrative Paragraph
Eng 050
Illustration
We’ve done description, narration…now it’s time to
start illustrating.
Illustration is what it sounds like—you are painting a
picture using words. Specifically, it is using examples to
make a point.
So what’s so hard about that, you ask?
The trick is the find the correct examples to “illustrate”
your points, and to word them in a way that is clear
and easily understood.
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You generally use examples to support an assertion. For
example, you may assert that “Professional athletes
train long and hard to maintain their skills.” You
should then use an example after this to prove your
point.
“Peyton Manning spends three hours a day practicing
football with his team.”
“Maria Sharapova trains three to four hours a day all
year long.”
“Ryan Howard spends five hours a day in training trying
not to hit a baseball.”
Illustration
Not giving examples for an assertion is the surest way
for your assertion not to be taken seriously.
Another example: You go to your boss and say “I
deserve a raise.” If you leave it at that, you most likely
will not get a raise.
But if you follow it with examples of why you deserve
one, you increase your chances. “I deserve a raise
because I have the highest sales average each month,
and I never take any sick days.” This sentence is much
more likely to get you what you want.
Illustration
Illustration goes back to the “show don’t tell” we
discussed when we talked about description and
narration.
We’re now going to read some examples of good
illustration paragraphs on pages 139-. While you are
reading, think about why they are good, and what they
are communicating to you.
Illustration Paragraph
Now we’re going to begin about thinking how to write
such a paragraph. It sounds more difficult and
intimidating (assuming you are finding it intimidating
at all).
Let’s take an example of something I just wrote for my
own college class. The assignment was to write a letter
to the editor on an education topic I feel passionately
about.
Illustration Paragraph
Now we’re going to begin about thinking how to write
such a paragraph. It sounds more difficult and
intimidating (assuming you are finding it intimidating
at all).
Let’s take an example of something I just wrote for my
own college class. The assignment was to write a letter
to the editor on an education topic I feel passionately
about.
Illustration Paragraph
I chose the topic of why teachers need unions. It wasn’t
enough for me to say “Teachers need unions.” It
wouldn’t even be enough for me to say “Teachers need
unions because unions protect their rights.”
Instead I had to give examples. A few included
“Teachers need unions to protect their benefits from
getting cut”; “Teachers need unions to help preserve
their jobs from getting eliminated.”
Illustration Paragraph
I also had to explain why teachers work many more hours
than some people realize. But again I couldn’t just say that.
Here’s a sample of the letter I wrote, giving examples to my
assertions.
Yes, some teachers take their summers off, but critics forget
that teachers don’t generally take vacation during the school
year, and sick days cause so much extra work to a teacher that
many don’t bother to take them. These “free” summers for
teachers are often spent developing lesson plans, sharpening
skills, attending workshops, taking classes and--just as often-teaching summer school. A teacher’s free summer most likely
ends up being six weeks, which is pretty much the same
amount of time off (if you consider sick time as well as
vacation time and holidays) as the average corporate
employee.
Illustration
Okay, let’s get started putting a paragraph of our own
together.
The prompt here is “who is a special person in your
life.”
Let’s start thinking about the prompt. Remember, we
can think “outside of the box.” The prompt did say
“person in our lives,” but if we want, we could choose a
pet, a person we don’t know, or even someone we
don’t like. These answer the prompt but stretch the
boundaries a bit.
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Special person in my life…Brother? Sister-in-law? Aunt? Cousin?
Niece? BFF Rebecca? BFF Erin? BFF Barb? Cat Miranda?
Hmmm, let’s brainstorm on Barb.
Known her for 20 years; same sense of humor; on my side even
when she thinks I’m wrong; never fails to make me laugh; I even
love her mother and her husband is like a big brother to me.
Now for the reporter’s formula for brainstorming (my
preferred…but use whichever works).
Who: My BFF Barb (one of my three BFFs).
What: Our friendship
Where: Met her at office of TV GUIDE magazine
When: The early 1990s
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How: We sat across from each other and realized we had a lot
in common.
Why: She’s non-judgmental, we have the same sense of humor
she looks out for me like a big sister, she’s always supportive.
Okay, good brainstorming right? But we’re not done in
terms of an illustrative paragraph because I have not given
examples of the “why.” I have not “illustrated” my point.
How is she non-judgmental? How has she always supported
me? How has she been a big sister? How do we have the same
sense of humor?
Illustration
We’re done our prewriting activities and brainstorming.
Now it’s time to write.
State your main point in your first sentence.
First I need to think about the point I want to make, and
that’s the fact that Barb is a special person in my life.
A sample first sentence: “Barb is a special person in my life
because even when she thinks I’m wrong, she’s still on my
side.”
A solid first sentence. But some of those items weren’t in my
brainstorming, and I have other reasons for thinking she’s
special. So it’s back to the drawing board.
Illustration
More ideas on a first sentence.
“Barb is a very special person in my life because she’s
always supportive, is never judgmental and looks out for
me as though I was her sister.”
Okay, I think that’s more like it. It doesn’t narrow it
down to just the fact that she’s supportive even when I
make mistakes. Instead it opens up other details I
wanted to mention, such as being supportive of me,
being non-judgmental even when I make mistakes, and
always looking out for me.
Illustration
We’ve got a topic sentence. Now it’s time to develop
examples that will support, backup, and explain that
first sentence. Remember, if your details don’t support
your topic sentence, you need to either rewrite your
topic sentence, or develop new details.
Here’s a few examples on the points. Remember to ask
yourself “why” and have an answer.
How was Barb always supportive? She encouraged me in
my desire to go back to school even when others said I
was taking too much on; she told mutual friends to
leave me alone if she felt they were being unfair to me.
Illustration
How was Barb like a big sister? She helped my brother
and sister-in-law throw a party for a milestone birthday;
she’ll tell me if she thinks I’m doing too much and say
that she’s worried about my health.
How is she non-judgmental? She never told me I was
making a foolish decision unless I specifically asked her;
she never put down my choice of boyfriends even if she
specifically didn’t like them.
Illustration
Now I’ve got examples that illustrate all of her good
qualities. But do I have enough examples?
The answer to is this our usual “it depends on the subject.”
A good rule of thumb for the paragraph is to have at least
three well-developed examples. I have two examples for each
point. This is sufficient for a paragraph.
A caution about examples: it is easy when giving examples to
mention ones that aren’t logical and that don’t support your
point. Don’t fall into this trap: make sure your examples are
factual.
Illustration
Giving examples that use faulty logic do not help your
case.
An example: A man is working on his computer, and
accidentally deletes a file. Frustrated, he directs this
anger toward his wife, telling her that his deleting the
file is her fault (because she left the window open,
which irritated him, which caused him to lose the file).
See how this is faulty logic? Leaving a window open
and deleting a computer file have no relation to each
other.
Illustration
So we’ve developed our ideas, wrote a topic sentence, and
wrote examples. The next step is to organize the paragraph
so it is logical.
When you have a prompt like this, chronological is a good
way to go (for example, I can trace my friendship with Barb
back to the beginning). But there’s other choices.
In the example paragraph on page 138, the author uses a
few techniques. His order is chronological, but he also
discusses the subject of his paragraph going from general to
specific.
Illustration
Now it’s time to put all of the pieces together. Here’s a sample
paragraph, using my topic sentence and many of my examples.
“Barb is a very special person in my life because she’s always supportive,
is never judgmental and looks out for me as though I was her sister. She
encouraged me in my desire to go back to school even when others said I
was taking too much on, and she’s defended me when she feels that our
mutual friends are being unfair to me in an argument. Since neither one
of us have biological sisters, we’ve become sisters to each other. She even
helped my brother and sister-in-law throw a huge party for a milestone
birthday a few years back, getting together friends from all aspects of my
life. She also tells me if she thinks I’m doing too much and offers to help
where she can. Best of all, she is completely non-judgmental. I’ve never
felt looked down upon even when I’ve made foolish decisions, and she’s
never put down any of my boyfriends even when I knew she specifically
didn’t like them.”
Illustration
There’s one thing missing in this paragraph. Anyone
care to take a guess?
Illustration
It’s a concluding sentence!
Remember (and this cannot stressed too many times)
that your concluding sentence has to relate back to
your opening sentence.
Our opening sentence: “Barb is a very special person in my
life because she’s always supportive, is never judgmental and
looks out for me as though I was her sister.”
Let’s brainstorm now on how we could conclude the
sentence.
Illustration
Here’s one attempt:
“The two of us look nothing alike, but we are truly
sisters under the skin.”
This sentence isn’t bad…but it introduced a new idea
(about us not looking alike. It never came up in the rest
of the sentence, and might be jarring to the reader).
Also “sisters under the skin” is an old-fashioned term;
most likely my readers wouldn’t know what I mean by
that.
Illustration
How about this one?
“Barbara and I aren’t related. Heck, we don’t even look
anything alike! But I couldn’t have a better sister and
friend than I do in Barb.”
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And let’s not forget our checklist:
Subjects and verbs
Does each sentence have one of each of these? And do the
tenses of the sentence and verb “agree”?
Pronouns
Do your pronouns “agree” with each other? More on that
in the coming weeks…
Modifier Errors
Are your modifiers as close as possible to the words they
modify? More on that in the coming weeks…
Illustration
Checklist continued
Punctuation and mechanics
Are your sentences punctuated correctly?
Are your words capitalized when necessary (and not
capitalized when not necessary)?
Word choice and Spelling
Did you choose the correct words? Remember, when it
doubt look them up, or use another word.
Spelling—Again, look up words you aren’t sure of.

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