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Meaning in my Essay!. The Stepping Stone to a “9”. General Format for Paragraph. The General Format is this: Sentence 1-- Topic Sentence Sentence 2 -- First Point in Support of the Topic Sentence (Claim) Sentence 3 -- Evidence to Prove Point 1 (Data)

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Meaning in my Essay!

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Meaning in my essay

Meaning in my Essay!

The Stepping Stone to a “9”

General format for paragraph

General Format for Paragraph

  • The General Format is this:

  • Sentence 1-- Topic Sentence

  • Sentence 2 -- First Point in Support of the Topic

    Sentence (Claim)

  • Sentence 3 -- Evidence to Prove Point 1 (Data)

  • Sentence 4 -- Explanation of How Evidence

  • Proves the Point (Warrant)

  • Sentence 5 -- Second Point in Support of the

  • Topic Sentence (Claim)

  • Sentence 6 -- Evidence to Prove Point 2 (Data)

  • Sentence 7 -- Explanation of How Evidence

  • Proves Point 2 (Warrant)

  • Sentence 8 -- Point 3 in Support of the Topic

  • Sentence (Claim)

  • Sentence 9 -- Evidence to Prove Point 3 (Data)

  • Sentence 10 -- Explanation of How Evidence

  • Proves Point 3 (Warrant)

  • Sentence 11 --Conclusion Drawn from All

  • the Evidence or Summary of All Points

  • NOTE: Warrants are often several sentences long.

What is the writers purpose

What is the Writers Purpose?


  • Description

  • Narration

  • Exposition

  • Persuasion


  • Description

  • Narration

  • Characterization

  • Reminiscence (memoir)

  • Response (meditation)

  • Information (exposition)

  • Definition

  • Analysis, including process analysis & causal analysis

  • Classification

  • Comparison contrast

  • Summary

  • Interpretation

  • Evaluation

  • Argumentation (persuasion)

How do they achieve purpose

How do they Achieve Purpose?

“Rhetorical Strategies”

  • a much broader term than the more commonly used “rhetorical devices.”

  • It includes:

  • Persona

  • organization

  • level of language

  • stance

  • syntactic structures

  • rhetorical devices

  • tone

  • selection of detail

  • paragraphing

How does purpose create effect

How does Purpose Create Effect

A device creates an effect:

  • Emphasis

  • Universality

  • Immediacy

  • Empathy

  • Verisimilitude

  • Connection

  • Mood (dominant impression)

Specific purpose


  • It’s also important to note that it is NOT ENOUGH simply to say that an author uses a strategy to achieve his purpose – in other words, you can’t simply say, “The author creates his mood through the use of connotation.”

  • A specific instance of a device (or an example) has a specific effect on the reader and that effect then contributes to the building up of the overall effect of the piece, which accomplishes the writer’s purpose.

  • Repetition, for example, almost always creates an effect of emphasis on the idea or image which is repeated because it calls attention to it. The next question then is: WHY did the writer want to draw the reader’s attention to that idea or image? It may take several more “why questions” to bring us to the accomplishment of purpose.

Meaning in my essay

The quality of your commentary is THE main factor in determining whether you get a high or a middle score on the AP essay questions.

Meaning in my essay

1. Commentary must actually explain, not just assert.

LOW-- Shaw says that his mother's cremation "is wonderful." This shows that he feels wonder at the ceremony. [This is an assertion, not an explanation]

MEDIUM-- In the actual cremation process, Shaw describes it as being miraculous, having"a garnet colored, lovely flame... and my mother became that beautiful fire." Shaw's attitude portrays no regrets, sadness or remorse. He explains his mother's cremation with descriptive details of wonderment and happiness.

BETTER-- Shaw uses words throughout this piece that are incongruously juxtaposed to the funeral setting. Shaw comments about the furnace used to cremate his mother: ...but it is wonderful." Contrary to convention, "wonderful" is not typically used to describe crematory furnaces, and therefore adds to the whimsical tone... (NOTE ALSO the correct use of a technical term)

2 commentary must show understanding beyond the obvious

2. Commentary must show understanding beyond the obvious.

LOW-- Shaw makes the furnace sound pleasant by using words like "clean, cool and sunny."

MEDIUM-- When waiting to see her cremated, he describes the furnace as being "cool, clean and sunny". By describing it as such, he conveys to his audience that the cremation is also beautiful and not a bad thing.

BETTER-- He uses words such as "wonderful, clean, cool and sunny" to describe the furnace. He does this not to sound crazy, but to show that where his mother is going is not a bad place. He is using the furnace to show his mother's entrance into heaven. Words such as sunny, miraculously, and beautiful all connote a heavenly aspect to the reader's mind.( Again, NOTE the correct use of a technical term)

Meaning in my essay

3. Commentary takes as much space as is needed to really explain what the writer understand from the quote.

Length is not necessarily good, but the "better" example took the time to state explicitly which words in the quote were important and exactly what the effect of the words in the quote was.

Meaning in my essay

4. Whenever possible, commentary uses the appropriate technical termfor the technique being discussed.

MEDIUM-- He ends the excerpt by giving a description of the preparation of

the ashes. He said, "the end was wildly funny; Mama would have enjoyed it enormously." He also says that it was a "merry episode." These last 2 comments show that he was at peace with his decision.

BETTER-- The persona is in first person singular, then it changes to first person

plural after the persona comes back to see the end of the cremation. Shaw's mother in spirit follows him back to the end of the cremation, "[enjoying] it enormously", which means she is free from her body and is now at peace to laugh, just like the persona.

5 obviously commentary must be correct

5. Obviously, commentary must be correct.

NOT TRUE-- "O grave where is thy victory?" This comment shows that Shaw believes cremation is more dignified than burial. [no it doesn't]

Meaning in my essay

6. Commentary must connect to the question; that is, it must actually help answer the question that was asked.

OFF-TOPIC-- The entire piece moves like one interminable run on sentence, keeping the pace moving very fast. [While this may be true, it has nothing to do with Shaw's attitude toward either his mother or her cremation.]

Commentary what to beware of


  • 1. Beware of substituting interpretation for analysis.

  • Ex. "The shadows -- which fell so softly on the warm, weary brickwork -- were of the right measure..." Using the hyphens to separate the description of the shadow with the shadows themselves, James proclaims that the shadows are part of the house. (Yes, and so why is that important? All this does is explain the literal meaning)

  • 2. Beware of substituting the statement of the technique for analysis of its effect.

  • Ex. He notes, "the barn is sweet with hay and leather, wood and apples." These words give the description of sensory language to support the mood. (All this does is state the technique of “sensory language”. What mood? How do they support? What exactly do they add?)

  • 3. Beware of asserting without explaining.

  • Ex. The narrator also repeats the word "leaves" many times to signal the beginning and the end of the season. This makes the passage more pleasant. (Even if we grant the truth of the first sentence, why and how should that create pleasantness?)

  • 4. Beware of not attaching your commentary to specific words in the quote.

  • Ex. "one of those lonely New England farmhouses that make the landscape lonelier." This element is a highly recognizable trait among many people. (What element? I don't see any element in the quote at all! What are you talking about?)

  • 5. Beware of getting 'side-tracked' or off-topic.

  • Ex. "The corn is shocked: it sticks out in the hard yellow rows..." He not only describes the corn with details of what it is, but does so untraditionally. (OK, but what does that have to do with creating mood?)

Better commentary


1. When the reader comes across words like "snap and crackle" of the fire, he can associate it with other characteristics that fire has: burning, destroying, ashes, smoke and so on. Thus it creates the intended mood of destruction and agony in the reader. (Reasons this is good: it points to specific words in the quote; it deals with the connotative level of meaning; it connects to the point of the question, mood)

2. The persona notices an "old and fat and blue" fly and notes the "big, stained teeth of crunching horses." Many readers dislike thinking about these things and would get an uncomfortable feeling from these connotations. (Reasons this is good: it points to specific words in the quote; it deals with the connotative level of meaning; it connects to the point of the question, mood)

Finding your commentary

Finding your Commentary

1. Take a hi-liter and mark any commentary you have in your own answer.

If you don't have any, you know why you got a low score. Write some for each of your examples NOW.

  • For each sentence of Commentary, Label it LOW, MEDIUM or BETTER, according to the 6 rules

    3. In the RIGHT margin, explain which rule(s) from the handout your Commentary follows or breaks.

    4. In the LEFT margin, write the NUMBER(s) which describe(s) what your commentary does.

    5. Underline the technical terms you used to state the techniques that the writer used to convey his attitude. If you explained without using the term, underline that.

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