Personal essays can be written using certain rhetorical patterns such as narrative, description, how-to, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, categorization and division, definition, and argument and persuasion. These patterns help readers understand the information being presented.
The most common pattern used in personal essays is the narrative. A narrative essay tells a story with an ending that resolves or answers the question(s) raised in the essay. The writer uses details to create a picture in the reader's mind of what happened. At the end of the essay, there should be a clear conclusion stating what we now know or feel about this topic.
In addition to narratives, personal essays often use descriptions, how-to's, comparisons and contrasts, causes and effects, categories and divisions, definitions, and arguments and conclusions.
Descriptions are simply words or phrases used to describe things. We use descriptions to explain what something is like or act as a guide for what to do next. For example, when visiting a new place I might describe the streets as "quiet" or "busy" depending on whether people are walking down them or cars are driving by. Quiet streets mean less crime and more opportunity for relaxation; busy streets mean more crime and less opportunity for relaxation.
How-to's are instructions on how to complete a task.
There are various types of rhetoric, but the four most prevalent are descriptive, explanatory, narrative, and persuasive writing. A description attempts to convey a concept so that the reader may precisely envision it. The expository approach attempts to convey a concept to the reader through evidence rather than views. A narrative uses stories to explain or describe concepts. Finally, a persuasive essay argues for a particular view point.
In research papers, the rhetorical mode is used to engage your audience and get them interested in what you have to say. There are three main ways to use rhetoric: descriptively, explicatively, and persuasively.
Descriptively. This type of rhetoric is used to give your readers a clear picture of your topic by using relevant terms that they would understand. For example, if you were writing about trees, you might describe a beech tree as "huge" and an oak tree as "massive." These words make their meaning clear to your readers and help them visualize these trees.
Explicatively. This type of rhetoric is used to explain how things work or why they happen. For example, if you were writing about electricity, you could explain that electrons flow through conductors such as copper wires when there is a difference in potential between two points on the conductor. This explanation makes readers aware that electricity can flow through a conductor, which before was not known by many people.
Rhetoric is used by writers to convince readers to agree with a specific point of view on an issue or topic. Rhetoric is the process through which a writer conveys a convincing message. Recognizing these sorts of rhetoric in a book aids readers in better understanding the author's point.
Some ways authors use rhetoric to influence the reader include: repetition, analogy, and paradox. Repetition is when an author returns to a theme or idea within the text. For example, an author might repeat certain words or phrases within the text to drive home a particular point. This tactic can be effective if used correctly; for example, using repeated nouns such as "children" or "parents" to attract readers' attention toward the end of the sentence. Analogy is when one thing is compared to another similar thing or event. For example, an author could compare children being obedient to parents and dogs being loyal to humans. The concept behind analogy is that people will understand and relate to what they know or have experience with. Using known events or things that are easy for the reader to understand and connect with helps the reader feel like they are part of the story. Paradox is where statements or arguments appear to be contradictory or mutually exclusive but can be resolved through further thought or investigation. For example, an author could write that children should be respectful of their parents but also tell readers not to trust anyone over 30 years old.
A rhetorical pattern is the method through which a writer expresses ideas. A rhetorical pattern is a strategy employed by a writer or, in certain situations, a speaker to convey ideas in a specific manner. Another type of rhetorical pattern that writers may employ is contrasting. Writers use contrast to draw attention to different aspects of their arguments or points of view.
Rhetorical patterns can be used by teachers to help students understand how writers organize information for effect. For example, using the pattern of comparison and contrast, a teacher could point out that some authors include many examples while others write only about one subject per article. By comparing several articles on a topic, students will be able to see how different writers structure their work to achieve particular effects.
In addition to comparison and contrast, other rhetorical patterns include analogy, metonymy, synecdoche, and zeugma. An author uses analogy when she/he compares two things that appear to be different but actually share a similar property. For example, an author might compare the line-up at the football game with the lineup of the American army to show that both groups of people included men and women. The author is using analogy to explain why there were no girls' teams in ancient Greece - because everyone wanted to fight for the best country!