Chapter 4: page 25

Considerations That Help You Determine Your Rhetorical Situation

Audience and intended audience

As we addressed in the writing process, discovering who is your intended audience reveals to you how to construct your thesis statement and entire paper. Your intended audience determines how much background information you will need to include in the paper and the tone and language you will use. (And once more, your real audience is you, your peers, your professor.)

For instance, if you are writing to people who do not agree with you, then you might use concession in your thesis statement and use refutation to address your first main point. Or if you are writing to an audience who does not know about the topic, you will have to consider how to inform them about the topic you are addressing in a specific and concise manner. If your intended audience has read the text/s your paper is based on, you shall consider what level of expertise they have in comparison to you.

At the university, your professors should always inform you of whom your intended audience is for an assignment since this knowledge will allow you to shape your paper in response to your intended audience. We do not write in a vacuum; you are writing to someone about something. If your intended audience is not clear, please ask your professor.


Using the assignment that you have been given, you are able to consider and address the purpose of the writing situation. Consider why you are writing the paper — Are you persuading your audience? Are you informing them? Are you showing them something you have discovered or are contemplating? What do you want your audience to do, feel, or think after reading your paper? Typically, the purpose of your paper will be determined by the assignment’s task and expectations.


From the purpose, the genre of your paper is determined. If you are writing a letter, your work will most likely be shorter than if you are writing an argument essay or a research paper or a portfolio of your work over the term. If you digitize your writing, you will consider the genre you chose—faux-blog, newsletter, magazine, flyer, public service announcement—and follow examples that you have read and liked.


The assignment’s task will determine the general topic of your paper and what you think about this topic will focus it further. For some assignments, you will be given a specific topic whereas for other assignments, you will have free reign to determine the topic yourself. Whichever it is, the topic is the focus of your paper.


Your Message = Thesis Statement

The thesis statement serves as a summary of the argument you make in your paper. The opinion you express in your thesis statement is the reason you are writing the essay, which is to explain to your intended audience why you hold this opinion about the topic.

Your thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process, and you should draw from class discussions, reflection, readings, and research. Though you may formulate a working thesis statement early in the writing process, as you collect and organize evidence, draft your paper, and move through the writing process, you will begin to see and reflect on the significance of the relationships in your paper, and revise and reshape your thesis statement.

Pixar in a Box: Please watch “Introduction to Storytelling”

Discussion Forum —

Supplemental Reading #13:

Should Writers Use They Own English? by Vershawn Ashanti Young

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