What Make a Piece of Writing Powerful?
Analysis: What Make a Piece of Writing Powerful?
• 3-5 page essay analyzing one piece of writing that you choose which was written recently (in about the last
• Documentation: cite works from our textbook by page number. Cite outside sources MLA style and
include a Works Cited page.
• Topic announcement on Blackboard: Tuesday 6/10
• Draft in progress in class: Wednesday, 6/11 and Thursday, 6/12
• Rough Draft emailed to the instructor: during the week of Monday, 6/16
Step One: Choose a reading
In class, we discussed what makes a piece of writing powerful. The introduction to Chapter 4 suggests three
ways writing is powerful:
• Writing can change our thoughts and perceptions – you may read an article on peanut butter sandwiches
that makes it impossible for you to think about peanut butter sandwiches in the same way ever again.
• Writing can be rhetorically persuasive. In class we used Aristotle’s triad to explain what “rhetorically
powerful” can mean – an argument is powerful when it has good logos (effective reasoning, logic,
evidence), ethos (an appropriate and trustworthy authorial voice), and pathos (an appropriate appeal to
values or emotions of a specific audience).
• Writing can be powerfully expressive – it can show you the author’s experience and point-of-view through
Choose any piece of writing that has been written in the last couple of years. Your job is to explain what
makes it powerful.
Step Two: Read carefully and analyze
“Analysis” comes from ancient Greek words that literally mean “break into parts.” When you write an
analysis paper, you usually look very closely at the details of one source.
Your job is to analyze what makes the piece of writing you’ve chosen a good piece of writing – why is it
powerful, or effective, or meaningful, or memorable, or important? What about it works well?
Look for details of the piece that you can quote or paraphrase. These details should be good examples of
the strengths of your piece of writing. Use these details as evidence in your paper. Take notes on why you
think they illustrate the author’s success.
Step Three: Write the first draft
Your draft should have the structure of an academic essay (see Chapter 3 for more detail), with an
introduction paragraph, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
o Context: your intro paragraph should mention your purpose and topic, and the specific
the thing you are writing about – in this case, the author and title of the piece of writing you
are analyzing, and perhaps where it was published and what kind of writing it is (news,
blog post, opinion, review, autobiography/memoir, essay, fiction, poetry, etc.).
o Topic: narrow down to the main aspect of your topic. State what you are going to do with
your topic – in this case, you will explain what makes this piece of writing powerful or
o Thesis: In the last sentence of your intro paragraph, state your main idea. Make a claim
that your body paragraphs will support with evidence. In this case, state exactly what you
see in your chosen piece of writing that makes it powerful or successful.
• Body paragraphs
o There is no magic number of body paragraphs that makes a good academic essay. You will
hear a rule of thumb that there should be at least three supporting points in an essay. But
what if your thesis has two main supporting points? What if it has eleven? Write as many
supporting paragraphs as you have pieces of evidence. For each detail, you took notes on,
write one body paragraph.
o Structure of a body paragraph: Topic sentence, describing the supporting point you will
make. Introduce your evidence; give the evidence as a quotation or a paraphrase (See
Chapter 3 for more details). Cite the source: print source name + page number (Author
52), or title plus page if there is no named author (“Editorial on Wombats” 52); online
sources usually will not have page numbers, so just give the name or title. THEN after
you give your evidence, DISCUSS your evidence. What should we learn from it? How
does it support your thesis?
• Conclusion: most basic conclusions will repeat your main idea now that it is well supported. You can go
further, and answer the question “so what?” Now that we know what you’ve shown us in this essay, what
do we know? How can we apply this knowledge? What do we appreciate more or what have we learned?
• Works Cited: See Chapter 15 or the Purdue OWL or our handbook for rules and examples.
|Academic Level||High school|
|Subject Area||English 101|
|Number of Pages||3 Page(s)/825 words|