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Lindsey Woodruff Genre Study Ms. Ingram

Part One As students in high school, a genre we all become familiar with rather quickly is writing prompts. Whether it is a state writing prompt, a practice writing prompt, an SAT/ACT prompt or an AP test prompt, we have all dealt with our fair share of writing prompts. This is a sample of an AP English Language and Composition test from 2010:

You can leave home all you want, but home will never leave you. Sonsyrea Tate Sonsyrea Tates statement suggests that home may be conceived of as a dwelling, a place, or a state of mind. It may have positive or negative associations, but in either case, it may have a considerable influence on an individual. Choose a novel or play in which a central character leaves home yet finds that home remains significant. Write a well-developed essay in which you analyze the importance of home to this character and the reasons for its continuing influence. Explain how the characters idea of home illuminates the larger meaning of the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.

The genre of the writing sample is a writing prompt. More specifically, it is a writing prompt created for the AP English Language and Composition test. This genre primarily exists in upper level high school courses. The text is primarily used in a testing situation to assess the proficiency level of students in that subject. It also can be used by teachers for practice in a classroom setting.

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AP writing prompts are very limiting. The authors of the questions have to use specific guidelines to create them and because of this, the prompts often have a professional tone and seem to be straight forward. It is also limiting for the students who are responding. Because of the sometimes stressful testing environment, there is little room for elaboration and it is challenging to come up with a well thought out and planned response because the grading criteria created by the AP Development Committee is not included in the writing prompt. They only way students know how they will be graded is if they look up the grading scale beforehand. This is also part of what makes this genre unique. The essays that are written in response to the prompts are written only for the sole purpose of being graded on set criteria. The advantages to this genre are that as long as the student writes well enough to cover all of the parts of the prompt, they wont fail. At the same time, this is also a disadvantage because the student cant elaborate or go into too much detail because the grading criteria might not allow it. The grading criteria as well as the rules for the genre are set by the same committee that writes the test, the AP Development Committee. Just as the Development Committee sets the rules, it only makes sense that the AP tests of any subject are written by the AP Development Committee as well. Each test is created by members of the committee that are high school and college instructors of the field that is being tested. In the case of this specific test, it was written by AP Development Committee for the English Language and Composition test. The intended audience of the text is AP English Language and Composition students. There are multiple pieces to the prompt that help carry out the purpose. The first piece is the quote from Sonsyrea Tate, You can leave home all you want, but home will never leave you. The second part is an explanation of the quote, Sonsyrea Tates statement suggests that

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home may be conceived of as a dwelling, a place, or a state of mind. It may have positive or negative associations, but in either case, it may have a considerable influence on an individual. The final part of the prompt as a whole, is the specific prompt that the authors want the student to respond to, Choose a novel or play in which a central character leaves home yet finds that home remains significant. Write a well-developed essay in which you analyze the importance of home to this character and the reasons for its continuing influence. Explain how the characters idea of home illuminates the larger meaning of the work. Do not merely summarize the plot. The authors give extra information for the student to use while responding but the actual writing prompt is clearly stated so the student responders clearly know what to respond to. On the surface, the purpose of the committee writing this prompt is to have it used on the exam. But the more impactful purpose is to create a prompt that students can use to demonstrate how they can write a well formulated response using skills they acquired while in the class. You can leave home all you want, but home will never leave you. The introductory phrase uses both explicit and implicit messages. The obvious explicit message is that no matter where you go as a person, you will never be able to leave home behind. The implicit message is more difficult because the word home can have many different connotations. As the prompt states, home may be referring to a dwelling, a place, or a state of mind. It is up to the student responder to determine what that phrase means to them. The values of the text are quite different depending on whose standpoint you are using. The text has different values for both the authors and the student responders, but are more evident for students. The authors values are to make the prompt challenging for the reader but also easy enough so each student has an equal chance of scoring well on it. However for the student, the prompt is specifically asking about the values of home and how it remains significant. For the student, home is also a value that they

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need to elaborate on. They need to demonstrate how home has an influence on an individual regardless of positive or negative associations. If this text was taken out of context and presented to another audience it would still serve the purpose as a writing prompt, but depending on the new audience, it wouldnt be as successful. If the audience remained in an upper level academic setting, the text would still be somewhat successful because that is still the audience it was written for. However, if the audience changed to anywhere outside of the academic world, it would still serve as a writing prompt but the prompt could be answered in a couple sentences and that defeats the entire purpose of the genre.
Part Two

A common trend among college students is that we have bad attitudes towards writing assignments. This is a theme that Nathan Timm, a college student himself, picked up on. In his essay, Tips for College Writing Success that was published in The Subject is Writing, a textbook for first year writing students. Timm wrote this essay when he was a junior attending Florida State University. In the essay he shares shares helpful hints that he found to be beneficial for him as a writer. In the introduction to his essay, Timm says the following:

Every college student has to write. Some love it, others dread it. Welcome to college. Deal with it. If students want to be able to succeed in college, they must learn to write well in almost every subject. Writing has become just as much a part of college as last-night pizza delivery. Still, students always seem to be complaining about writing papers, even English majors, including avid writers who are trying to write successfully outside of class. Writers can get so entangled in their assignments that they think of each assignment as torture instead of a challenge. Any

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method found to alleviate this frustration can be a sanity-saver. To help, I came up with eight helpful hints for writing successfully in and out of class in college.

In the first sentence of the introduction Timm says, Every college student has to write. Some love it, others dread it. Welcome to college. Deal with it. He strategically uses sarcasm, a tone every college student is well acquainted with, to acknowledge that his primary audience is college students. Timm is very straight forward and also quite blunt with his word choice in the introduction. He uses this to make his message explicitly clear that all college students have to write regardless of whether we like it or not and we have to Deal with it. He isnt beating around the bush or sugarcoating anything. He tells it like it is. A tactic that isnt common in most academically published essays. By doing this, Timm sets a conversational tone that college students can relate to and identify with. Even though Timm comes across as harsh, he says, Any method found to alleviate this frustration [caused by writing] can be a sanity-saver and this shows a different side of him. By saying this, Timm shows he is genuine as an author. He wants to help college students see writing in a new light. This is why he took the time to come up with eight helpful hints for writing successfully in and out of class in college. This shows that he wants to pass along what he learned as a college student to the reader to help them with their own writing endeavors. Timm goes on to list the hints later on in the essay. The genre of Tips for College Writing Success is an essay, however the genre for the specific text I took from Timms essay is an introduction. This genre exists in any type of writing in any type of field. The only difference is the form it might take. It could be a small paragraph like what Timm used, or it could range anywhere from a few sentences to a page depending on

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the subject that is being written about. The sample text primarily exists in the collegiate or high school setting because that is who the intended audience is. Every introduction has a different purpose, audience and context that is unique to the subject of the author. When it comes down to the rules of writing an introduction, I would say that the author of the individual essay has the power to make their own rules. This could easily lend itself to being both an advantage and disadvantage. Because each introduction is going to have its own individual attributes, this gives the author the freedom to write about whatever they want whenever they want. The reason that Timm can write with a sarcastic tone in his introduction is because nobody can tell him he cant. He is the author and he makes the decisions for his writing. At the same time, not having any rules could also be a disadvantage. With most genres there are rules that are set that the authors can follow to have a sense of uniformity to their writing. As I mentioned earlier, because introductions can range from a few sentences to multiple paragraphs, it is impossible to have any types of conformity within this genre. If the audience of the introduction changed, the success rate wouldnt change all that much. Even though there isnt a sense of uniformity with the way introductions are written, as long as they are written properly, they will all be successful regardless of the field they were written in. However, because the essay is so clearly addressed to college students, it is going to be difficult for other audiences to get the same benefits out of it. Over all, the introduction to Tips for College Writing Success is successful in fulfilling the authors purpose. I believe that one of the contributing factors for the successfulness of the sample text is the conversational and slightly sarcastic tone. Because Timm was a college student at the time he wrote the essay, he knows what college students are feeling and what we are going through. He uses this to relate to us. He also uses humor when he says that Writing has become

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just as much a part of college as last-night pizza delivery. In my opinion, it is the little things like that that make it seem as if I am reading a letter from a friend instead of reading a lecture by a teacher. I cant speak for every college student but, personally I am much more receptive to this essay and others written like it, than I am to other pieces of writing that have a more professional tone to them.

Part Three When comparing and contrasting an AP writing prompt and the introduction to a collegiate essay, one would think that the articles werent similar in any way. During my analyses I was able to find quite a few similarities as well as differences. I will say that I found it somewhat ironic that I chose to analyze a prompt and the introduction to an essay seeing as how in most cases, you cant have an essay without first having a prompt. Taking a more in depth look and the similarities and differences between the two articles, a few things stuck out. The audience of the two texts were both students. However, if the audience changed, only one of the texts would remain successful. The introduction to an essay will always serve the purpose of introducing a reader to the essay that will follow. When considering the audience for an AP prompt changing from students to adults in a professional world, the purpose of the prompt changes from a prompt used to assess a students proficiency to a simple prompt that can be answered with only a few sentences. Another striking difference between the two texts are the rules and who makes them. With the AP prompt, rules matter and they are set by the AP Developmental Committee. There has to be rules to ensure that the prompt successfully meets all the requirements to be on the exam. With an introduction to an essay, however, there are no specific rules if the author chooses

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not to establish any. In Timms case, he set the parameters for his introduction and wrote what he felt was fitting. This carefree approach is non-existent in the realm of the AP Development Committee. It makes sense that rules are an integral part of a text that is being used in a high school setting while rules arent necessary in a collegiate setting. In high school, rules are everything when it comes to writing. Our papers had to be five paragraphs, or three pages, or on one specific topic that we couldnt interpret differently than any other person in the class. We were very confined as writers. In college, like Timmss introduction, there is a sense of independence and freedom. He wrote about a topic he was passionate about and set his own rules. As college students this is what we are learning to do. It is as if we are breaking free from the chains that we were bound to while we were writing in high school. When further analyzing the purposes of the sample texts, I found that each genre continues to exist because it is necessary and will always exist. There will always be a need for prompts to be written to assess the proficiency of high school students writing whether its a college placement exam, a college application, or even a standardized writing test. As long as there are pieces of writing being written, there will need to be introductions. Regardless of the genre of writing whether its a business proposal, lab report, essay or journal, essays are a critical part of writing. My suggestions for those who are asked to engage with these genres is to break the piece down. As I mentioned earlier, the AP prompt could easily be broken down to help the student understand all parts. By doing this you not only know what is specifically being asked, you can use the information that is given to write a stronger response. The same could be said when reading an introduction. If you take the time to think about how the crucial an introduction is to

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an essay, it makes the most sense not to skip over it. More often than not, the introduction will give an overview of the essay, by analyzing this you already have a better understanding for what you will be reading and your comprehension will be far better. I regret not realizing this earlier. Knowing what I do now, I feel that I could have written much stronger responses and had a far better understanding of countless numbers of essays. I am glad that I figured this out sooner rather than later. Being a freshman I am well aware that I have a lot of reading and writing ahead of me. I have learned how to break down the assignment at hand. I realize that if I begin do this, there is a good chance that I will get much more out of the essay or assignment. It will also allow me to gain insights about the assignment that I would have otherwise missed. Hopefully it will also make the assignment easier and much less stressful. By breaking things down, whether it be an assignment or an introduction, and analyzing each individual part of what is being asked or said, the assignment will seem much less daunting. Overall, I feel like writing this paper has given me the motivation I need to take the steps in becoming a much stronger student. I have a brand new perspective on assignments and how to approach them and the skills Ive learned will only benefit me in the future.