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ENGL 1013 J. Jackson

Essay #2: Writing to Evaluate

You began by writing reflectively about your life experiences. Now you will shift to writing informatively about a topic that is not you but one that you know well and about which you have strong opinions. For your second essay, you will write either a slam or a rave. A slam, as the title suggests, is a negative review in which you share your dislike for a subject. In the slam you will lambast and/or lampoon a subject with vigor and vitriol. A rave is the opposite of a slam: a positive review in which you share your fervor for a subject. The subject of the rave or the slam may be cultural (a movie, a song, a book, a work of art) or experiential (a meal, a concert, a volunteer experience). Don’t discuss religion or politics. Well-written raves and slams require sophisticated critical thinking skills and wise rhetorical choices.

FOCUS: Your thesis should be persuasive. A rave isn’t a simple endorsement of the subject; it’s an exhortation that the subject must be experienced by the reader. Similarly, a slam is a persuasive piece warning readers to stay away from your subject at all costs. I’m less interested in what you think than why you think it, so your thesis should make this clear.

ORGANIZATION: Begin with an introduction that announces your topic, fills in general background material, and reveals your stance. Second, provide a paragraph that establishes your criteria. This part is crucial. For example, before explaining why a particular movie is a flop, explain what you want and expect from a movie. Third, use a paragraph to fill in specific background information: who, what, when, where, why, and how. If appropriate, cite a reviewer or critic who agrees with you. (See model essay for an example of this—if you already covered this in depth in your introduction, you can move on to the next section.) Fourth, use one or more paragraphs to explain exactly what pleased or displeased you. Finally, sum it all up in a conclusion that drives home your overall message and persuades readers you’ve been fair.

DEVELOPMENT: Include vivid and detailed descriptions of your subject. Reference common expectations among readers. Offer clear criteria before rendering your specific verdicts. I’m interested in what you think and, more importantly, why you think it. Memorable raves and slams are not only entertaining but are also a careful calibration of the informative, the analytical, and the argumentative. For the sake of fairness, include some balance: positive remarks for a slam, negative remarks for a rave. Use vivid and descriptive adjectives.

STYLE: Raves and slams are edgy and amped-up. Whether you are expressing likes or dislikes, you must write about your subject with energy and enthusiasm. Tone should be passionate yet palatable, and you should persuade your readers that your assessment is fair and reasonable. Use strong verbs, active voice, and complex/compound sentences (dependent and independent clauses; colons, semicolons, dashes, and parentheses).

Length requirement: at least 3 ½ pages

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