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Short version: In an essay that aims to persuade and leave an impact on the reader (which also involves making it flow logically), is it more effective to have the larger scale societal example in the first paragraph and the smaller more personal example in the third paragraph? Or vice versa?


Using the following essay format (which I am meant to follow):

  • Intro
  • Paragraph 1 (1st Argument, including 1st example, rebuttal, counter rebuttal)
  • Paragraph 2 (1st Argument, including 1st example, rebuttal, counter rebuttal)
  • Paragraph 3 (1st Argument, including 1st example, rebuttal, counter rebuttal)
  • Conclusion

Example 1 will be a large scale societal or historic example, referencing a major event or phenomenon e.g. WWII, colonialism events or some other emotional event that impacted many people.

Example 2 will be around smaller scale/more local example based about how X has occurred withing our country/community. That aims to show the reader how it is relevant to our lives.

Example 3 will be personal example that shows how X has effected me. That aims to connect to the reader on a personal level.

Is it more effective to:

  1. Have the larger/societal example in the first paragrapher and work down to more localised example and then the personal example in the third paragraph? Or

  2. Have the personal example in the first paragraph and the larger societal examples in the third paragraph?

The bigger societal examples are arguably more powerful, but the guides suggest we do the smaller scale and more personal ones as well so that we can 1) make it more relevant to the reader and 2) connect to the reader (as mentioned above)..

What I believe are the pros and cons of each method:

  1. Option 1 has the benefit of starting out strong and setting up the rest of the essay.
  2. Option 2 has the benefit of finishing off strongly (and hopefully influencing the marker by having the last thing they read be the best part of your essay).

Which would be more effective in persuading the leader of my argument (which also involves making it flow logically) and making an impact on the leader (in terms of giving them a take away message)?

  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is really an academic question, not a question about writing per se. You are not trying to write a persuasive essay to but fulfill an examination criteria. This question might be more appropriate for the Academia Stack Exchange. – Mark Baker Nov 14 '16 at 0:24
  • Thanks for the comment. Is there a way to migrate the question or do I just delete it an repost it there? – K-Feldspar Nov 14 '16 at 0:27
  • I just had a look on Academic S.E. and couldn't really find a suitable tag. Although my aim is to fulfill a criteria, I do think my question is about writing in the sense that the crux of the question (if I ignore the context) is asking "what makes the writing most effective to a reader". Though I am still happy to move it to maybe academia.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/writing – K-Feldspar Nov 14 '16 at 0:31
  • @K-Feldspar I checked with the moderators on Academia and they said this wouldn't be on-topic there. I think this could work here if you focus it on what you are trying to accomplish in the writing itself -- not pass the exam, but be persuasive, or demonstrate a logical approach, or be concise, or... (insert goal here). – Monica Cellio Nov 14 '16 at 16:01
  • @MonicaCellio . Thank you for following that up. I have edited accordingly. – K-Feldspar Nov 14 '16 at 18:56
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Based on personal experience (I have written many an English essay on how x writer shows y theme in z extract), I would say write the large scale example first, and then narrow down to specific examples. This is a very logical sequence that the examiner/reader will be able to follow very easily, and it shows that you understand the subject to both a general level and also a very nuanced level.

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