Chapter 2: Page 14

Reading like a Writer

Being able to recognize certain genres as a reader also involves recognizing the “moves” that writers typically make within those genres. Just like when you’re in a conversation with a new person, and you pick up on their nonverbal cues, mannerisms, and conventions, reading like a writer involves picking up on the language choices, audience, purpose and main message of the writer, as well as the way in which the writer presents those moves within a particular structure, style, and set of conventions. In the Supplemental Reading below, Thomas Deans describes the concept of Discourse Communities to refer to the way we recognize writer’s moves (and eventually make our own intentional moves as conscious, informed writers) within various different genres, cultures, and academic disciplines, all thought of as “communities of practice” that continually shape, and are shaped by, the Discourse created by you.

It is important to note, for discussion and your development as a writer, that while advanced readers recognize standards and constraints of various genres, and advanced writers make choices and moves within the expectations of the genre, that genres are also continually changing. As the academic community and the pop culture community become more inclusive, open-minded, and transformed by writers, speakers, and performers of the world, various genres, including standard English itself, are being reimagined and redefined, as new academic genres (like Spoken Word, for example), are emerging in the mainstream.

Supplemental Reading # 8:

Writing in Academic Communities by Thomas Deans

Asking Questions Like a Writer

One way to focus your active reading and annotation is to ask questions about what the writer is doing, in addition to what the writer is saying in various parts of the text. Reading in this way positions you as a critical reader who is not only engaged dialogue with the author, but is now learning from how this author writes. This is described by Ellen Carillo (2019) in the context of “rhetorical reading,” where active readers benefit from recognizing what the text (and writer) says and does, and reading like a writer to analyze how the writer uses ethos, pathos, and logos.

  • Ethos: How credible is the author to their intended audience? How credible are they to you? What do they do to establish trust or authority?
  • Pathos: How does the author make moves to appeal to your emotions as a reader? How does the author appeal to the emotions of other intended audiences?
  • Logos: How does the author make a logical argument? Why do they make sense?

Supplemental Reading #9:

Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of our Nation by John Lewis


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