1. The four important rhetorical questions:

  1. Purpose--What is the purpose of the essay? Why is the writer writing on this topic? What does he/she want to accomplish?

  2. Audience--To whom is this particular piece of writing addressed? Is the writer appropriately addressing that audience?

  3. Persona--Who, what kind of person, is writing this piece? Again, is the voice appropriate given the purpose and audience?

  4. Content--What kinds of information or arguments are presented? Are they suitable given the purpose, audience and persona?

As you can see, the four rhetorical devices are inextricably interrelated. The choice a writer makes in one area will affect the choices he or she makes in the other areas.

  1. In addition to the above, which are decisions that take place at an almost unconscious level initially, writers must make other decisions.

  1. Look at the essay as a whole: what is its thesis? how is that thesis developed? how are the ideas organized? Here you are looking at the "shape" of the entire work.

  2. Now start to examine the essay's parts:

  1. paragraphs--does each paragraph have a thesis? is it developed? how is it organized? do the ideas follow each other clearly? do the paragraphs follow each other in some logical way?

  2. sentences--are the sentences clear? are they grammatically correct? are they punctuated properly? do they follow each other smoothly and coherently? do they show some variety in thinking and in writing patterns?

  3. words--are they spelled correctly? is the writer using words appropriately? are individual words "correct" given the purpose, audience, persona?

  1. Go back and look at the essay as a whole again. You need, now, to reexamine the essay in terms of topic, purpose, audience, content, persona and to evaluate how these aspects combine with the formal elements. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Degree of difficulty--what kind of topic has the writer chosen to write about--remember also the critical thinking levels: lap swimmer, lake swimmer, snorkler, scuba diver

  2. Level of sophistication--even the simplest topics can be transformed into something unique by an imaginative writer

  1. Organization--does the writer rely on chronological order, (perhaps the simplest technique) to organize ideas or does he or she organize them in a more sophisticated way?

  2. Audience--is the audience one which challenges the writer or one which enables the writer to rely on comfortable and less challenging techniques and reasoning?

  3. Persona--does the writer rely on first person narration to express ideas (again, probably the simplest technique) or does the writer use more complex methods?

  4. Reasoning--are the reasons or arguments or ideas presented to develop a topic common ones? or does the writer provide more complex or unique ideas which indicate some good, hard, original thinking?