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>When I was teaching argumentation and persuasion in writing, I used the
>classical rhetoric model from which I think the Tell em, tell em, tell em
>The declaration of independence is an excellent example of this form. In the
>intro or front matter you lay down you philosophical underpinnings and tell
>the reader why he should read the document. In the second big chunk, you
>outline your argument in detail, using concrete and specific examples. In
>the last bit, you take your argument to its logical conclusion or spell out
>your action step. While it all works toward a single thesis, and in this the
>effect is that the same point is pitched in several ways, there is no bald
>repetition. Of course, there is more to it than that, but that is the basic
>idea. It is a very powerful form because it caters to the way we think here
>in the west (I can't speak for the east).
>In terms of metadiscourse, it remains implied (if I can say such a thing).
>In the Declaration, Jefferson never says, "We are here to talk about
>becoming independent from the British Crown," yet by the end of the first
>paragraph (perhaps even the first sentence!), you know that that is what he
>is about. If he had used just the bald tell em three times approach, we
>wouldn't be reading the document today.
Ah, now this is exactly the more-sophisticated approach that I'm talking
about. Introductory content, not metatext, introduces later
material--creates the need for it, makes it comprehensible, implies that
it's coming. You never stop and say, "This section is about
such-and-such." You say something substantive, not about the document,
that provides the fundamental elements of the subject matter upon which
later elements build. In its highest form, it also makes the reader *want*
to read the later stuff--to answer the questions raised, to provide the
justification needed, to spell out the solution to the problem decried, etc.
Have to say, writing introductory content requires a lot more skill than
writing metatext. There are a lot more options available, and generally
they aren't obvious. It also requires more familiarity with the subject
and, perhaps, with the audience.
Ben Kovitz <apteryx -at- chisp -dot- net>