Response paper #4

We’re back from a long winter’s break. I hope everyone out there had as good a time as I did aimlessly wandering the snowy streets of Salt Lake City, free from the constraints of the student hordes and the constantly ringing bells of our school. The bells, the bells.

Don’t get me wrong. I love school and all, but the aimless wandering I was able to do over the break allowed me to see things I never would have seen otherwise. Like a tone deaf bus driver singing modified, bus-related, Holiday carols to a bus-load of jolly car-less folk. (“Dashing through the snow, on the Southbound 209…”) Nor would I have been able to witness the most stunningly diverse group of “friends” I have ever seen (including whites, blacks, latinos, males, females, teen-agers, middle-agers, poor, really poor, and even a couple obviously mentally retarded kids–yeah, really) gathered in the square outside the library, communally “performing” several incredibly foul compositions of the Insane Clown Posse. They all rapped in perfect unison, each word so lovingly selected by the Insane Clowns bursting forth from snarling lips. Despite the childish vitriol of the lyrics, they looked so happy to be together. The Christmas carolers I saw later that week, a gaggle of old white people, didn’t look half as excited to be hanging out with each other.

Anyway, it was good to be on break. Since we’ve only been back for two days, and all the classes have already written twice about the texts we’re finishing today, I’ve come up with another project to help us learn a little more about writing and maybe even make us a little bit better as people. Ugh. Here it is:

Response Paper #4

There are 4 major “modes” of writing” (“mode” is sort of just a fancy word for “purpose”):

  • Descriptive (describe a person, place, or event with details that appeal to the 5 senses)
  • Narrative (describe an experience, event, or sequence of events in the form of a story)
  • Expository (provide information, such as an explanation or directions)
  • Persuasive (give an opinion and try to influence the reader’s way of thinking with supporting evidence)

So far, your response papers have mostly been squarely in the expository or persuasive mode, although the most impressive responses veer frequently into the realms of narrative and description as well. (Although the state of Utah really wants us to learn about each kind of writing, it’s kind of silly to try to do only one at a time. The best writing does it all.)

Today you’re going to write in a mode that sort of spans across expository and persuasive writing. I call it the Problem-Solution mode. Different modes have different “model” outlines, and here’s what a typical outline for a Problem-Solution essay might look like:

I. Introduction

A. Grab the reader’s attention by describing a serious, frightening, heart-wrenching, (humorous?) problem: Describe Who, What, Where, When, Why, How…

B. Break your “big” problem into little parts–describe the little problems that cause the big problem

C. Introduce your proposed solution

II.-IV. Body paragraphs (x2, 3, 4, however many you need)

A. Describe one of the “small” problems that contributes to the big problem in detail: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How…

B. Describe attempted solutions (what has been tried before to resolve the problem, and why did it fail)

C. Propose a new solution to the small problem and explain how exactly the solution would solve the problem

V. Conclusion

A. Explain how all the little problems add up to the big problem

B. Explain how all the little solutions affect and solve the major problem

C. Explain why this is the best way to address the issue you describe

Now, this is a mode of writing often used to talk about scientific experiments and such things, but we’re going to twist it a little. Your topic for this week is the following:

In the olden days, everyone used to make a New Year’s Resolution. This was simply a promise they made to themselves to change something in their lives that they thought would make them happier.

Use the Problem-Solution mode of writing to describe some aspect of life in 2007 that has made you unhappy, describe some of the solutions you attempted during the year, then propose solutions you can implement in 2008.

Here’s a sample outline you can use for this essay:

I. Introduction

A. Grab the reader’s attention by describing a serious, frightening, heart-wrenching, (humorous?) problem you faced in 2007: Describe who, what, where, when, why, how.

B. Break your “big” problem into little parts–describe the little problems you had that contributed to the big problem. (For example, if my “big” problem is that I eat too much cake, “small” contributing problems could be things like the fact that my mother is a baker, and that cake is the only food available in our fridge, and also that I’m an emotional eater [watching Oprah makes me hungry for cake]. Each of these “small” problems contributes to the big problem.)

C. Introduce your proposed solution–What do you propose to do differently in 2008? What’s your “resolution?”

II.-IV. Body paragraphs (x 2, 3, 4, or however many you need)

A. Describe one small problem you faced last year that contributed to the big problem: Tell who, what, where, when, why, how.

B. Describe attempted solutions to the small problem–things you tried in 2007 to make the problem go away.

C. Propose a new solution to the small problem. Explain how exactly that small solution would solve the little problem. Explain how you’ll implement the solution.

V. Conclusion

A. Review how all the little problems you dealt with in ’07 added up to the big problem

B. Explain how all the little solutions affect and solve the major problem

C. Explain why this is the best way to solve your big problem

D. Explain exactly what you’ll do differently this year: Make your New Year’s resolution

That’s it. Be persuasive in describing the proposed solution to your problem, but remember the main audience you need to convince is yourself. Follow the outline, look deep within your heart, be sad, mad, humorous, or whatever, and use writing to come up with creative solutions to crappy problems.

Happy writing!

MT

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One response to “Response paper #4

  1. Yes though some problems look to be silly but the person who is facing the problems will know better

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