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Brand new: lowest price The lowest-priced, brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging where packaging is applicable. ISBN , Provocative and lively, it will prove not only essential reading but also inspiration for all those interested in arguing more imaginatively more successfully. Read full description. See details and exclusions. See all 5 brand new listings.

Buy it now. Add to basket. Cioffi Paperback, Be the first to write a review About this product. All listings for this product Buy it now Buy it now. New New. This edition features new chapters that cover the revision process in greater depth, as well as the particular challenges of researching and writing in the digital age, such as working with technology and avoiding plagiarism. The book also includes new sample essays, an appendix to help instructors use the book in the classroom, and much more.

Have doubts regarding this product? Post your question. Safe and Secure Payments. Easy returns. You might be interested in. Back to top. But it fails to give enough direction. I suggest that you place your thesis near the beginning of the essay. It should probably not be at the very beginning—for the reader needs to be prepared for your idea about a given issue, and probably should know a little about the general subject and topic that you deal with.

I recommend placing the thesis at the end of your introduction. This is a safe, albeit conservative positioning of it. Again, though you can experiment with placement of the thesis, putting it earlier or later, this could generate confusion: your reader might not follow what you are arguing for, or think you are arguing something else. Say clearly what you mean. Make the thesis forceful in its impact. Make it roll off the tongue, slide off the pen, clatter beautifully off the keyboard—or at least appear to have.

Also your thesis should be evident without your having to signpost it. Just do it. This is no place for coyness. Reveal your main idea. What are the ways that the novels differ, why are the contrasts important, and why should anyone bother to read an essay about them? To further capture the elusive construct of an argumentative thesis, I offer an idea from T. Eliot in his essay on Dante. If, by contrast, the thesis is totally comprehensible at the outset, there is probably something wrong with it, and the paper that follows will, typically, be predictable and ho-hum, as it strenuously argues for something that most readers would accept without proof.

How do you generate actively argumentative thesis statements? Learning what this forethought consists of can help you generate more complex, more rotund, more fresh and new thesis statements, and better papers, and can help you understand the mode of thought that writing papers such as these both teaches and requires. Elaborating on the ideas of the previous chapter, I want to propose four areas of possible forethought, though I do so only with the proviso that this is by no means an exhaustive list.

And people cannot be intelligent all by themselves. So there must be an audience: what is it like? Indeed, it is quite a narrow, even parochial audience: a person professionally involved with the topic, who has read a lot of material about it, and who has doubtless repeatedly read the text or texts under discussion. As I said above, this is a specialist audience—and a sympathetic one.

Yet this audience needs a lot to be surprised or enlightened. Indeed, this audience longs for surprise, is parched for enlightenment. This audience does not want, for example, simplistic answers to rather obvious questions. This audience does not want a thesis he or she has read before, many—or even a few—times. Just as when I decide to write a scholarly article on, say, a poet named H. You need in fact to infer the kinds of things that scholars can more easily discern about competition.

Forethought also involves determining your relation to the assignment. What does the assignment really call for? To what extent is the assignment about the text, and to what extent is the text supposed to be used only as a pretext? Often, the argumentativeness of a thesis hinges on certain unspoken guidelines, which, not too surprisingly, vary from course to course.

Last piece of forethought, but in some ways the prime mover: You need to grapple with your own response to a work or works, or to a series of ideas under scrutiny in a class. If your reaction is muted or nonexistent, then why write anything? When I was a freshman, I never even considered the option of telling a professor that the provided paper topics all seemed boring to me. But I should have done so when that was the case, and teachers should encourage students to take that initiative. If you have generated a thesis you are certain is correct, then why argue for that thesis? This connects both with Louis I.

I want to suggest that inhabiting those realms is sometimes valuable precisely insofar as it does not have conclusive results. Of course, blunting up against things is not a lot of fun. This is not necessarily a state of bliss or contentment, but it might be one from which emerges something of value. You tend to generate the pseudo-thesis or perhaps that would be soo-DOTH-esis.

Note that these statements seriously attempt a thesis and are generally written quite clearly, such that the reader has a good idea of what the writer means. I am not going to discuss here the compacted or elliptical thesis, which is mysterious, vague, and ultimately meaningless: such a thesis represents a failure of language rather than one of thought. Text-based papers, then, often generate pseudo-theses such as the following: 1. A description of research or summary of the texts 2. A blueprint for a paper that follows 3. A madcap or lunatic invention that everyone, including the author, knows to be zany and inappropriate, and that never attempts to offer anything but that very zaniness Are you alive?

I touch you. I cover you with my net. What are you—banded one? I choose this not only because I like it but because it was chosen by I. The second, the blueprinter, feels that the audience, living in a hopelessly chaotic world, wants orderliness, organization, a plan or road map, really anything that will stave off everencroaching anarchy. The fourth has the misguided notion that all the audience is looking for is creativity—unharnessed, unspancelled, unleashed.

Each of these positions naturally and even logically generates a pseudo-argument to back up the thesis. Not too much careful forethought goes into these. Indeed, these students are merely attempting to reconcile the quite alien notion of writing a paper for a university class with what they have previously been taught.

Written by a poet who called herself H.

here

The Imaginative Argument: A Practical Manifesto for Writers - PDF Free Download

This student generally writes a summary or description of the text. It shies from any real interpretation. Actually, the genuine problem is a misconception of the assignment: the student thinks assignments are just trying to get him or her to provide proof that the work or book has been read. I might do so myself.

The blueprint thesis—I take the term from Richard Marius—does force novice writers to come up with some kind of organizing principle. It does urge on them some kind of unifying structure. But in university-level classes, we want more than evidence of organization. I think David B. Blueprint theses also have a tendency to turn Procrustean. Blueprints offer only a plan that will be followed to the letter. One hopes that the blueprint builder will in fact come up with an argument. Sometimes they do. The blueprint contains all the main points of a paper—on page 1.

Is that what you want? Probably that thesis is just a bit too obvious, too easy to support. In fact, okey-dokey. Many times you will be tempted, I think, to look for a very reasonable middle ground. There are perhaps two quite radically opposed positions, neither of which might seem suitable, so why not split the difference and argue for an intermediate position? It does seem a reasonable gambit. And the paper that will emerge from this rhetorical tactic generally is so reasonable that it puts the reader to sleep.

In a newspaper column, the humorist Dave Barry suggested that the best way to write papers in college writing courses was to make the most outlandish comparisons possible. He said that as soon as he did this, he started getting high grades. Here are some zany thesis statements about H. As one tires, the lines become hazy, confusing. I know that feeling of lines becoming hazy. These are explanations that I have actually seen offered.

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Here, too, each writer has misconstrued audience, purpose, and relation to subject matter but, even worse, has in some sense cut the cord that grounds his or her explanation to the text itself. In short, these pseudo-theses emerge from the idea that a thesis needs only to be asserted. In fact, it has to be proven.

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Ho hum. Words are weapons? Is this an allusion to Amiri Baraka? In fact, it seems to me that coming up with a genuinely argumentative thesis about it is an excellent exercise. The loss of so much of the formal structure leads otherwise to tenuousness and ambiguity. The reader here supplies too much of the poem.

The poem itself, however, does not limit itself to discussion of a pool, but has a broader, more generalized focus. Building on this allusion to human tampering, H. Nina B. The idea of dominating so as not to be dominated, and the lack of consideration for the object being dominated, take on a different slant if one assumes a male speaker as opposed to a female one; H. I disagree; and I disagree with his paraphrase. In fact I think his argument is ridiculous. But it is an argument. It seems to me that a useful way of thinking about how to come up with an argumentative thesis is to think of a major, overriding, important—and ultimately unanswerable—question about the work or issue.

Here is an excellent student response to the poem, one that taught me something about H. The curious thing about Nina B. It seems that taking an argumentative stance can often lead to sudden, unexpected insights. Let me offer my own interpretation, expanding on the arguments offered by some of the student writers I cited above. It shows how forays beyond the self result in confusion, loss of control, and possibly even remorse.

The poem depicts a consciousness almost psychopathically ill-equipped to cope with the world, and this inability to cope emerges, paradoxically, out of a terribly heightened sensitivity, not just to change, but to nature and to experience itself. In short, I would need to project a context, infer an audience, and also reexamine my own interpretation of the poem. What it was initially communicating is now understood, or better understood. Eliot says that poetry communicates before it is understood; a thesis should do the same, but by the end of an essay generated by that thesis, an approach to understanding should also have emerged.

Only approaching understanding? It seems to me that knowledge in humanistic discourse is always only asymptotic: it approaches a truth but never actually touches it. You develop this idea as you show your thought process. You know that what you write represents only a series of successive approximations of a truth.

The novelist and scientist Thomas McMahon suggests that ideas just come in, as if from nowhere. Becker Ironically, these strategies themselves are not highly original, and I gleaned them over the course of years of teaching. Bear in mind that sometimes originality will not compel your audience, though; they might be looking for something else entirely. In that case, you should probably just skip this section. No such shortcuts exist.

Writing is simply hard work. Even McMahon contends that testing ideas always requires hard work. You can go to school or grow old learning how to test ideas. That takes hard work. But no one can teach you how to get them. One of the most striking examples that James Adams uses in his book Conceptual Blockbusting, which I mention above, involves solving the nine-dot problem. The task is to connect them all with four or fewer lines but without removing your pencil from the page.

Most people think that they must not move their pencil beyond the box created by the dots. But the instructions do not specify this limitation. Explore contradictory feelings or evidence. Most of the time, we just gloss over contradictions—we are looking for patterns that make sense, and contradictions we more or less minimize. Actually seeking out those contradictions can often open up a topic. Bring in ideas and structures from another, apparently unrelated discipline. Invent a new form by which to express yourself, or modify your own writing in some curious, special way.

Do research on the issue, seeking points of disagreement among scholars. For example, one person suggested taking the piece of paper and crumpling it into a ball, then driving the pencil through that. Another suggested really huge dots and small spaces between them, so that a broad pencil would intersect them all. Continue on around the earth, and then pass through the second row of dots.

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One more circumnavigation of the planet, and the third row of dots is connected, and all this with just one line! How might this apply to writing? But using tactics such as these might well lead you to new, interesting insights or discoveries. Makes me wonder how much a single sentence relies on every small detail, every nit that a nitpicker would pick.

Or a peck of pickled peppers. But I digress. This suggests that Hemingway was not singular but plural. First, Hemingway has much more than just a single side to his prose. Many people work under the impression that he wrote all simple sentences and very plain stories that displayed no emotion on the part of the narrator. This is certainly not the case.

He had several styles in his repertoire. And he would often use very complex sentences. He also wrote some poetry. This, to her, was a contradiction. I will get to that in a minute. This is not the disinterested, affectless recorder of atrocities, no, not at all. How would you be different if you had grown up poor rather than rich or rich rather than poor, or middle-class rather than either of the preceding? How would you respond if faced with a much younger version of yourself? Or with a much older version of yourself?

This topic I think most people can understand and work with, since most Americans are expert consumers. It seems to me that perhaps one does. So suddenly a paper about consumer desire, once the contradictions hovering around it emerge, becomes really rather complex and possibly compelling. The phenomenon of walking around malls or driving through shopping districts, or for that matter browsing on the Internet, palls for many consumers— to the point at which they may lose all desire.

Can I Write Diversity if I'm...? ~Writing Tips!

What must happen? Is it only a matter of age, income bracket, experience? It seems to me that these are some interesting questions you might explore in an essay. A version of bringing a structure from another discipline, the comparison-contrast often helps generate new ideas. There are lots of possibilities, but I would suggest that going outside the SUV class might be more interesting.

Or to a boat? For some reason these also strike me as too obvious, too limiting. Maybe an SUV could be compared to some sort of animal? Again, too literalist, is it? SUVs are really very much like elephants large, lumbering, etc. But what about dinosaurs? Maybe the SUV as a reincarnation of the extinct dinosaur would lead to new insights. Some are heavily armored, like the stegosaurus; others are relatively small but aggressive, like an al- 67 CHAPTER 5 68 losaurus; some seem to take to water, as did others of the ancient reptiles.

And still others amaze us with their gigantic proportions. We can then compare the SUV one of the four humors—black bile anger , yellow bile depression , blood liveliness , or phlegm lethargy. These were thought in ancient times to dwell within each person; the idea was to seek a balance. Could our vehicles be categorized along these same lines? Uncontrolled growth. You are trying to expand your mode of thought about an issue or idea, and I think the comparison might have that effect.

Of course, if you are a great lover of SUVs, you might take a different angle or paint anti-SUV commentators as absurd because they liken your favorite vehicle to a tumor.


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But why stop with SUVs or single them out, really? Why not try to see all motor vehicles as cancerous? And if these vehicles are the cancer, then what do we do to cure it? As you can see, this kind of comparison-contrast brings to light some genuinely fundamental issues—can or ought we as a society do without automotive transport? Is our system of transportation killing us slowly or even rather rapidly? And what would the alternatives be?

Hence you might view this section on invention of new forms as being only instrumentally valuable. It might lead you to an insight or idea about a subject, and then you could write out that idea in a more traditional format. Suddenly the topic has opened outward, maybe itself metastasizing too wildly. After all, people cannot be stripped of their identities or knowledge of themselves—and if they could, would we want to listen to them, especially if it were somehow up to them how to distribute the wealth and power in a given society?

Maybe, since you feel stymied, you should try to invent a new form. You might consider writing a brief play or short story, for example, in which the society you imagine could exist. People might be given drugs, say, to make them unaware of who they were. Or such drugs could be put in the water supply or air, and the whole populace could be polled about a new organizational system.

Or perhaps there could be some element of sabotage, or a small group, getting wind of what was going to happen, could invest in gas masks, lots of bottled spring water, and canned goods, and use their advantage to skew the results. What would human reaction be to such a system as the veil of ignorance? Your play or short story could analyze that. From there, you might in fact come up with something original as a thesis to a paper about the topic.

Alternatively, you might conduct a series of interviews with friends, family, teachers, or strangers. You might ask them questions about social inequality, about what they conceive of as an ideal society, and about what they would do were they placed in a situation such that they did not know their own status when making decisions. These interviews could well form the basis for a paper about Rawls. Perhaps you could set up Rawls in conversation with several other political philosophers—Aristotle, Rousseau, Locke, Marx—and, using their own words, create a scene in which they discuss their ideas.

Again, you will need to ascertain whether your audience is willing to accept such a deviation from the standard argument, but if they are, such an approach might well prove to be refreshing. And it might lead to new insights about the philosophy itself. Rather, think about your writing in the exact opposite terms: You want to stir things up. You want to generate debate. Again, you need to respect your audience and keep in mind what it wants. They will follow my guidance, do in their writing whatever it is that I want them to do.

You need to discard and replace this model. You have some ideas for what you want to write, but before you commit yourself to paper, you wonder, what kind of paragraphs should I use? There seem to be all kinds of paragraphs in the textual universe surrounding us. Which are best? I know some writing teachers hate this analogy, perhaps because it too severely delimits the possible forms a paragraph can take.

It is the most important single point of the paragraph, the essence to which the paragraph might be reduced. Such a positioning is a safe one, though sometimes writers will opt for a closing sentence as a topic sentence, or will have a topic sentence in the middle of a paragraph. They cannot defend themselves or run away. And few destroyers of trees ever plant any; nor can planting avail much toward restoring our grand aboriginal giants.

It took more than three thousand years to make some of the oldest of the Sequoias, trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. The news from Washington is encouraging. On March third the House passed a bill providing for the Government acquisition of the Calaveras giants. The danger these Sequoias have been in will do good far beyond the boundaries of the Calaveras Grove, in saving other groves and forests, and quickening interest in forest affairs in general.

While the iron of public sentiment is hot let us strike hard. In particular, a reservation or national park of the only other species of Sequoia, the sempervivens, or redwood, hardly less wonderful than the gigantean, should be quickly secured. It will have to be acquired by gift or purchase, for the Government has sold every section of the entire redwood belt from the Oregon boundary to below Santa Cruz.

As always, the rules here will bend as you push against their limits; feel free to experiment with the placement of topic sentences. Sometimes alternative placements can add interest to a paragraph and paper , offering the reader a little more variety than would a repeated structure. I strongly recommend that you do place a topic sentence somewhere in the paragraph, however; allowing your controlling idea to remain implicit or deploying the entire paragraph as its own topic sentence both strike me as risky strategies, more apt to confuse the reader than to enlighten or engage.

One advantage to seeing paragraphs this way comes from the analogy to the parts of a paper: just as the thesis of a paper must be different from its conclusion, so a topic sentence must not be merely repeated at the end of a paragraph. It goes in a circle. This is a narrative, but the same principles apply in expository prose. It was a textbook example of a frightening house. The windows banged as if of their own accord. The paragraph has some good supportive details, but it needs to give more of a sense of progress. Dependent for its individual poetic quality, in every instance, upon the inexplicable power of language, that quality is lost the moment the language is changed.

The intellectual content of a poem, the outlines of its imagery, its more vague and general emotional effects—these may be transferred to another tongue. But in either case his work is seen to be something very different from the poem he has attempted to translate. It can be translated, ultimately, but neither faithfully nor well. Not only is the paper moving to a new stage as the paragraph break suggests , but, the topic sentence proclaims, this is that new stage. When writers bury their topic sentence in the middle of paragraphs, there seems to be no dividing point between one paragraph or idea and another.

The paragraphs seem to ooze one into the next. Such a construction makes the whole paper seem a little hard to grasp, a bit inchoate and muddy. This is a mistake. Yes, you do need to make a smooth transition from one paragraph to the next, and at the same time the last sentence of a given paragraph makes a concluding point to that paragraph. A signal of a new idea or of a new phase of thought, a different subject or perspective, should not displace or constitute that concluding sentence.

Your transitional device should be in the topic sentence of the paragraph, which at once signals a new idea and ties it in to the previous one. You need to make sure that this topic sentence obviously marks a change in direction. To anchor it to the previous paragraph, you should probably repeat some key idea, phrase, word or even sentence structure from the end of the preceding paragraph as you introduce the new topic of the new paragraph. What goes after the topic sentence? Paragraphs need to be developed just as arguments are developed in the paper proper, and as with papers, there are many methods of development.

Instead of trying to decide which of these to use in developing each of your paragraphs, it would be best simply to keep in mind that you need to expand, explore, and explain—even exploit—your topic sentence. Some modes will be more useful in some situations than others, but in all cases, you need to offer more than just a topic sentence and a reiteration of that sentence. Like the thesis, the topic sentence must be more than merely asserted: you need to prove it. You prove it through the use of evidence. But on the whole it is best to use a topic sentence for each paragraph.

You are writing, for the most part, to communicate your ideas, and typically the most straightforward method of presentation will be the best. It can also be the material that you have discovered that helps to defeat a counterargument. It need not necessarily be always novel or different; you can draw on material that has already been brought to light. But you may want to frame that evidence in such a way that it has a new impact. In short, you need to make the evidence work to advance your argument, thesis, or idea. There is no set length for a paragraph. A paragraph of one sentence can be fully developed; a paragraph of ten sentences can be underdeveloped.

I have hedged for so long in an attempt to answer this question that now I just give a suggestion. Probably the safest length for a paragraph in a student essay is six to nine sentences. Paragraphs of fewer than six sentences probably lack development; those of ten or more can typically be broken somewhere, and each resultant paragraph developed more fully. Your instructors will probably never count the number of sentences per paragraph. This paragraph has nine sentences, not counting this one: just made it!

This concept is known as paragraph unity or coherence. A coherent paragraph limits itself to the points needed to prove the topic sentence, expanding on those as much as necessary to explain When we were on vacation, we came upon a bear.


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A forest ranger we encountered told us that someone had evidently shot the bear. It seems to me an example of what might be viewed as follows: New information1 [NI1] vacation, bear. Or, in short form, NI1. The new information is followed by more new information, which is confusing. Ideally, the sentences should be joined in this fashion: NI1. One of the ways to think about this concept is to envision it in terms of new information and old information.

This kind of cohesion carries on into the paragraph itself, where new information is best introduced if it is preceded by, or introduced by, old information. As an example, the following two sentences seem to lack cohesion the example is one that Professor Donald W. Cummings introduced me to : 79 When we were on vacation, we came upon a bear. The animal, we later found out from a forest ranger, had evidently been shot.

When the details are presented in this manner, the weakness of the whole universe of information being conveyed also becomes more pronounced. Had they come upon a wounded bear, a dead bear, or a bear that was healthy and would be shot later in the day? Notice, too, that the two pieces of old information, the linking OIs, are rather similar to each other, thus making the cohesiveness even greater.

the imaginative argument a practical manifesto for writers

Here are examples of some breakdowns in cohesion. It happens that EPO, or erythropoietin, the blood-enriching drug prescribed to boost his chemosuppressed immune system, is also the banned drug of choice among world-class cyclists. Janine worked in a savings bank as vice president. Here is a more elaborated example that I have made up, linking the beginning of each sentence to the end of the one before, and you can see that the writing sounds immature and repetitious.

Then, with no real link, the second sentence starts discussing EPO. It would be relatively easy to segue more smoothly and with greater cohesion into that second sentence—simply by starting with OI old information , but old information from early in the preceding sentence. A vice president has a very important job.

The disbelieving society, in the case of Flatland, is, of course, the two-dimensional inhabitants of the world, who do not realize as the protagonist does that there is a third dimension. The third dimension remains mysterious and even inexplicable to them, as they lack the conceptual apparatus to understand anything outside of their own two dimensions. It seems to me, though, that there are enough ideas in this paragraph that it can be rather easily revised into something that resembles mature prose.

More typically, though, disconnectedness poses a greater and more often encountered problem. It sometimes represents a pathological problem. Most of your nearest relatives are good writers, and thereby took the load off me. I should have learned better how to write, but it is so easy to say, Let Mom do it.

I know that my writing will not be easy to read, but I have a problem with the nerves in my legs and tremors in my hands. Yet it is not so very different from many paragraphs that one encounters in writing by people who are not evidently suffering from a degenerative condition of the brain.

Consider by way of contrast some writing from a medical text, the Merck Manual. I had been stung by a bee and went to the manual for information. The author of the entry seems to have found himself in some trouble because he clearly had a very limited space and had to convey an enormous amount of information. There are two major subgroups: apids honeybees, bumblebees and vespids wasps, yellow jackets, hornets. Apids are docile and usually do not sting unless provoked. The stinger of the honeybee has multiple barbs, which usually detach after a sting.

The venom of apids contains phospholipase A2, hyaluronase, apamin, melittin, and kinins. Vespid venom contains phospholipase, hyaluronase, and a protein termed antigen 5. Yellow jackets are the major cause of allergic reactions to insect stings in the USA. Beers and Berkow Where is the topic sentence of this paragraph? Is it really about Hymenoptera, various stingers, venom, or allergies? Let me offer a rewrite: Stinging insects the order Hymenoptera of the class Insecta contain three major subgroups: apids honeybees, bumblebees , vespids wasps, yellow jackets, hornets , and ants—all of which have slightly different habits and venoms.

I hope it stays this way. Keep up the good work. Their venom contains phospholipase A2, hyaluronase, apamin, melittin, and kinins. If given a little more space, the author could have written three paragraphs rather than one, and his topic sentences could have been as follows: CHAPTER 6 84 1. A large and diverse order of the animal kingdom, Hymenoptera includes all the common stinging insects.

Humans can have allergic reactions to any of these venoms, but the yellow jacket causes the most widespread problem. Indeed, that strategy works against the author: his paragraph structure breaks down, and the ideas become obscured. Its separate parts must work in unison with one another.

We can identify the thesis, or the evidence, and the conclusion, but these elements are successful only insofar as they are part of a whole. While this is atypical, let me present the idea at least provisionally. Note that you need not include all of these elements. One or two of those with an asterisk might be omitted. Title Your paper needs to be titled.

Make the title brief and descriptive. It should invite the reader in. Try not to hide what the paper will discuss or examine; try not to be obscure or playful or punning or condescending. You have given your reader two new pieces of information, and he or she must process them both. Hence there should not be too great a disjunction between these two elements. Your introduction should probably expand on some of the ideas of the title, but most of all it must continue to invite the reader inside: it must be engaging and interesting. A good title should be informative, concise, and straightforward.

Strive more for captatio benevolentiae: self-consciously capturing the goodwill of the audience, getting them on your side before they have read your paper.