Soaps and didos
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SOAPS and DIDOS. An Introduction to Close Reading. SOAPS. Subject Occasion Audience Purpose Speaker. S: SUBJECT. The subject of an essay is the writer’s main point, the topic being addressed. There are sometimes multiple points.

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SOAPS and DIDOS

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Soaps and didos

SOAPS and DIDOS

An Introduction to Close Reading


Soaps

SOAPS

  • Subject

  • Occasion

  • Audience

  • Purpose

  • Speaker


S subject

S: SUBJECT

  • The subject of an essay is the writer’s main point, the topic being addressed.

  • There are sometimes multiple points.

  • In an ironic essay, the point may be the opposite of what is being said.

  • Ask: “What is the writer talking about?”


O occasion

O: OCCASION

  • The occasion of a piece is the situation that gets the author to sit down and write.

  • Ask: “What circumstance or event led the writer to pen this essay?”


A audience

A: AUDIENCE

  • The audience is the person or group of people a writer is addressing in a piece.

  • Audience includes the type of people the writer wants to reach.

  • This includes all kinds of demographic groups: different races, ages, income levels, education levels, political beliefs, etc.

  • Ask: “Who is this essay for?”


P purpose

P: PURPOSE

  • Purpose is the reason behind a piece.

  • This includes both the subject and the occasion, but it is not the same as these two.

  • Purpose can be to argue an issue, to describe a scene, to tell a story, etc.

  • Ask: “What was the writer trying to accomplish by putting this on paper?”


S speaker

S: SPEAKER

  • The speaker is the person addressing the audience in the essay.

  • The speaker is NOT merely the author.

  • An essay’s speaker is always a persona; i.e., an element of the writer and not the whole person.

  • Ask: “Which part of the author’s personality is speaking through this piece?”


Soaps combined

SOAPS Combined

  • Once you have figured out all of SOAPS for a piece, ask:

  • Based on all of this, what do I understand about the writer’s argument and his or her approach to the content?

  • In other words, what’s the angle?


Didos

DIDOS

  • Diction

  • Imagery

  • Details

  • Organization

  • Syntax


D diction

D: DICTION

  • Diction is the writer’s choice of words.

  • Remember that words do not get onto the paper by accident. Each word represents a choice.

  • But diction is never just one word. It is the collection of patterns represented by the whole.

  • Diction draws on words’ connotations, their extra meaning outside the literal.

  • Ask: “What are the most powerful or important patterns of word choice, and what effect do they have on the piece?”


I imagery

I: IMAGERY

  • Imagery is the writer’s use of language that engages the audience’s five senses.

  • Imagery can affect the tone of the piece and lend weight to a narrative or an argument.

  • Some writers need imagery more than others, especially if they are writing about something difficult for the reader to connect with.

  • Ask: “Why has the writer chosen to use language that appeals to specific sense(s), and what effect does it have on the piece?”


D details

D: DETAILS

  • Writers select the details they will use very carefully.

  • In narrative, details help create the scene and the mood. They help tell the story.

  • In arguments, the details are the supports the writer uses to convince the audience of a point.

  • Ask: “What does this detail add to the story or to the message? Why did the writer choose this particular detail or this particular type of details?”


O organization

O: ORGANIZATION

  • Organization is the way the writer has put together the essay.

  • Some types of organization:

    • Chronological

    • Compare/contrast

    • Cause/effect

    • Juxtaposition (placing very different things next to each other to draw attention to their differences and similarities)

  • Ask: “Why did the writer put these ideas together in this way? What point is s/he trying to make?”


S syntax

S: SYNTAX

  • Syntax refers to the structure of the writer’s sentences or a pattern of sentence types within a work.

  • Sentences can be simple or complex; they can use parallelism; they can be fragments. They can be lots of things!

  • To understand syntax better, you need to understand grammar better!

  • Ask: “Why did the writer choose this type of sentence? What does it contribute to the piece? What does it say about audience and speaker? How does it help or hinder the message?”


Didos combined

DIDOS Combined

  • Once you have figured out all of DIDOS for a piece, ask:

  • Based on all of this, what is the writer’s overall tone?

  • In other words, how do the writer’s choices combine to reveal his or her attitude toward the subject and the audience?


Soaps and didos

Good readers use these tools for every book, story, poem, and essay they read. Good writers make conscious choices about these tools in every piece they write.

Practice Makes Permanent!


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