You are on page 1of 7

Anadon 1

Ethan Anadon
Scott Kneece
Writing 2
04.18.2016
The Creativity Crutch
Creativity is something Ive always struggled with. Though sometimes as a writer I have
had success looking to others for inspiration, I often felt as if this was some form of cheating. I
wasnt really coming up with these ideas on my own. I was using someone elses writing as a
crutch for my lack of creativity. While, I still struggle sometimes to be creative, I have come to
realize that in reality what I am doing when I look at other works is not stealing their ideas but
instead understanding what sorts of conventions are useful in the genre in which I am writing.
These conventions are always consistent throughout the genre and thus to know what
conventions other authors use can be useful for someone unfamiliar with the genre. Sometimes
these conventions may just seem like they are a result of the author lacking creativity or just
relying on clichs but the truth is that these conventions are there for a reason. The truth is that
these conventions exist because they are the most appropriate to that genres audience, that
genres purpose, and that genres context. Authors include these conventions only for those
reasons. Therefore, one could even compare any one genre with another and always they would
find that each has a separate set of conventions because each genre has its own audience, purpose
and context. As an example we will analyze the arbitrary genres of newspapers and speeches and
see how the conventions relate to the genres and how the conventions compare to each other.

Anadon 2

Firstly, we must understand the audience, purpose, and context of one of our genres and
see how they relate to that genres conventions. Once this is understood we can examine how it
compares to the other genre.
Beginning with newspaper articles, each newspaper article has an audience. The
audience is very broad. Thousands of individuals read these articles every day. That means a lot
of diversity and a broad audience.
Conversely, the context in which one finds them self while reading an article is
significantly less broad. People tend to read them in chunks as the day goes on and not all at
once. For instance, I think it is agreeable that finding someone dedicated solely to the act of
reading the entire newspaper is uncommon; however it is not uncommon to find an individual
reading a newspaper as they eat their breakfast or reading it in the bits of time they have between
tasks. This is because people dont typically dedicate large portions of their day to reading
something they dont have to but instead read it when they have free time. Also, keep in mind
that newspapers contain other articles and newspaper companies sell these articles as part of a
group, not on an article by article basis. So it is not important that articles draw more attention or
are better than an article on the same paper, just that the overall newspaper experience is
enjoyable. So, with that in mind, another aspect of the context would be that they are part of a
larger newspaper.
Lastly, newspapers have an even more specific purpose. They simply explain recent
events of importance to the audience in a way that ensures that they will continue to buy the
paper. So combined these three things tell us why the author wrote the article(purpose), who the
author wrote it for(audience), and where and when the author expects the reader to read his or
her article(context). Now that the audience, purpose, and context of newspapers are understood,

Anadon 3

we will now be able to understand how each of the following conventions relates to the audience,
purpose, context or some combination.
To begin, well discuss an obvious convention of newspaper articles: formal tone. This is
a bit vague but can be broken down into key components. The components being: higher level
vocabulary, complex sentence structure, and an avoidance of conjunctions, colloquialisms, and
profanity. We find a good example of all of these in an article by the New York Times on climate
change author Michelle Ennis wrote This quote demonstrates the use of a higher level
vocabulary(the use of confluence and even unusual over something more casual like weird),
a complex sentence structure, and an avoidance of conjunctions(the use of bleaching is instead
of bleachings); all of which contribute to the professional tone characteristic of news articles.
Returning back to our original statement that these conventions are all linked in some
way to audience, purpose, context or some combination, we see that that this convention has a
clear link with both the audience and the purpose of a newspaper article. There are so many
people reading these articles that it is likely best to keep it professional so as not to offend and
also to ensure that the author remains credible. If they did offend this would likely hurt sales and
ultimately be a hindrance to your ultimate purpose of selling newspapers.
Our next newspaper article convention is that they start not only with a headline, but also
an introductory paragraph or lead which outlines the important aspects of the article. For
instance, the article by USA Today beings with the headline A new NASA study sees the wobble
of the Earth on its polar axis shifting(Borenstein) but then continues with its first paragraph
Global warming is shifting the way the Earth wobbles on its polar axis, a new NASA study
finds(Borenstein). It differs only slightly from the opening, and offers about the same level of
information. This is a common brief description of the overall story that news articles often
begin with.

Anadon 4
Understanding a newspaper articles purpose and context will help us make sense of this
convention. They want to inform while also ensuring that the reader enjoys their newspaper
experience. Giving them a way to quickly decide whether the article is of interest to them will
certainly enhance the overall experience and help to sell more newspapers. Similarly, given that
people tend to read these pieces in bits throughout the day this helps to summarize the news in
an efficient way so the reader can determine if they want to read the entire article.
Moving on to yet another convention, newspapers tend to use frequent quotes from
experts as well as eye witness testimonies. In the article in USA Today they use quotes from
experts at NASA who actually discovered the change in the Earths wobble. In the NY Times
article Ennis takes a similar approach when quoting the likes of Dr. Cobb. Newspaper articles
frequently contain quotes of experts and eyewitnesses throughout.
Continuing with our analysis of the relation between each convention and the audience,
purpose, and context this one is linked mainly to purpose. These types of quotes offer credibility
to the piece. If the purpose of these articles is indeed to inform, then it is important the reader
can believe what they are being told, so credibility is a huge part of an article accomplishing its
purpose.
The last convention we will discuss is the fact that they explicitly avoid giving their
opinions on the subjects at hand. They stick to the facts about the topic and leave subjective
opinion out of the article. Words and phrases like I believe or In my opinion are never
included in newspaper articles.
Yet again, it is clear that this convention is there for a reason. This reason can be
understood again by understanding the audience of newspaper articles. When your audience is
so large you have to ensure that you dont offend your customer. Expressing opinions is a great
way to offend so newspaper article authors avoid it.
So, it is clear that authors use these conventions in news articles not simply because the
author lacks the creative ability to write with a new style, but instead because each convention

Anadon 5
helps serve the audience that the article appeals to, in the circumstances that the author expects
the reader to encounter the writing, and accomplish whatever it is the writer believes needs to be
accomplished and whatever the reader expects to be accomplished.
However, it should also be true, as previously stated, that if two genres have different
audiences, purposes, or contexts then they should have different conventions. So, with that in
mind, we will analyze how the conventions of newspaper articles compare with those of our
other genres: speeches.
Of course, first we must ensure that the audience, purpose, and context are indeed
different. When analyzing the audience, purpose and context of speeches, you will find stark
contrasts with that of newspaper articles.
Their audience, firstly, is less broad. It is instead well known to the orator and is also a
person who the author thinks can help evoke some sort of change. Speeches are written with a
specific audience in mind. Recall that newspapers audiences are sometimes entire nations and
are often written more generally to
Moving forward, the context is also very different. Instead of minimal focus and the
ability to skip around, the audience very deliberately goes somewhere to hear a speech. They
cannot simple choose to hear bits and pieces of a speech as they please, they must listen to it in
the order presented and can only to a certain extent even choose not to listen to a speech, lest
they seem rude. Also, these speeches are of course heard most of the time and not read.

Lastly, the purpose of a speech is to evoke some sort of change. The orator has some sort
of goal that they want accomplished that they think the audience can help accomplish. So, they
give the speech in hopes that whoever is listening will help the speaker accomplish said goal.
This is the audience, context, and purpose of speeches, which is very different from newspapers.
And considering the stark differences between the two, we would expect very different
conventions. And indeed there are very different conventions.

Anadon 6

In speeches we have the convention of repetition. In a speech given by Naderev Sano on


global warming he ends with If not now then when? If not us then who? If not here then
where(If not now)? Notice the repetition. of If not then Speeches regularly use
repetition because it helps audiences digest the information as they hear it. Unlike newspapers,
people cant rehear something that they didnt understand unless, so the speaker must repeat
them so that they can rehear and can therefore better understand them. Notice how the context is
different, and thus the convention is different.
Another thing found in speeches is that they use a grand style. This is again a bit vague.
However it breaks down into a few more specific parts: varying sentence structures, elevated
vocabulary, and the use of abstract topics. For instance in a speech also about climate change by
Leonardo DiCaprio, he says This is not a partisan debate; it is a human one. Clean air and
water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a
question of politics. It is our moral obligation if, admittedly, a daunting one(DiCaprio).
Notice the use of abstract topics(e.g. human, inalienable human rights, moral obligation),
elevated language(inalienable, partisan, obligation, daunting), and the varying sentence
structures. These speeches are very grand indeed. And this makes sense given its audience,
purpose and context. Not only do they have the time to be grand because people are there
specifically to listen to his speech and are not in between tasks, but also the tone matches the
severity of the situation. Speeches are given in attempts of accomplishing something that needs
to be accomplished, as per the purpose, and are therefore very significant. While newspapers
may talk about topics that are equally important, this sort of grand style inhibits them from
efficiently giving the facts as is their purpose. To compare the conventions with newspapers,
newspapers lack this grand style not only because their purpose is to inform and such flowery
style distracts from the facts, but also because to name use a grand style is to assume that the
reader believes the topic is important, which could potentially offend.

Anadon 7
Lastly, they tend to express a desire to reach for some sort of goal. Please, let Doha be
remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around(If not now).
Clearly, appealing to those with the power to do something about climate, expressing a broad
goal to do whatever they can to fix climate change. This, of course, relates to the goal of
speeches, to persuade someone to do something about a social problem. To relate this to the
newspaper articles, both articles and speeches have a separate purpose. So, as previously stated,
it should be that they have different conventions and indeed they do. Speeches offer a call to
action or some sort of goal while newspapers simply tell the reader about something that
happened recently.
From all of this you can clearly see that both speeches and conventions have very
different audiences, purposes, and contexts. With these differing audiences, purpose and
context what we found were very different conventions.
So, ultimately, is remained true that conventions exist for a reason. They are ways the
author appeals to their audience, the context they expect their work to be encountered, and what
they want to accomplish by writing it as well as what they believe the reader expects the writer to
accomplish. Each context matches up with audience, purpose, context, or some combination of
the three. And as such, it was that if a genre had a different audience, purpose, or context it had
a different convention furthering the argument that conventions and audience, purpose and
context are indeed related. Such was the case with newspaper articles. Their conventions always
appealed to the audience, purpose, or context and when compared to a genre with a different
audience, purpose, and context we found different conventions, furthering the solidification of
the link between audience/purpose/context and conventions such that the connection could no
longer be denied