Discursive writing makes up part of the folio at both National 5 and Higher level. it can earn you up to 15% of your final grade and so obviously it is well worth putting time and effort into this part of the course – especially as if you do it well, then that is 15% of the course you don’t have to worry about after it is sent off. Discursive writing will look at both sides of the argument before deciding on a stance whereas persuasive writing tends to come down heavier on one side of the argument throughout.
1) The first thing you need to do is to pick a topic – there are loads of them out there! Some of the ones that are traditionally used include ‘should abortion be allowed?’ and ‘Should cannabis remain illegal?’ If you want to make yours stand out try and pick a topic that you think no one else will be using and try going for something that is current and topical. If you find yourself getting stuck try flipping through some of the newspapers or looking at them online as most new articles are shaped around a persons opinion or view on something and they are forming an argument to persuade you to their opinion.
For the purposes of this piece I’m going to say that my discussion will focus on how the media needs to stop promoting female celebrities are bad role models.
2) Now I have decided on my main discussion I need to come up with sub-arguments. These will form the focus point in each of my paragraphs and will show that I have formulated a clear line of thought and have reasoned through the debate. My final piece is going to be a persuasive piece so I’m going to focus mainly on the bad points. Because this is just an example, I’ve only focused on four sub-arguments but yours should feature at least five or six.
* They start out with a young following because of their initial target market
* They are overly sexualised which encourages us to objectify women
* They do not hide their worst behaviours
*There are other role models who should be promoted – Jessica Ennis,
3) Now I have decided on my sub-arguments I need to find evidence that will back this up. I will look at this in more detail and analyse it so it supports my answer. The evidence could take the form of statistics, quotes or anecdotes and it can be lifted from a variety of sources – newspapers, internet pages or people you have spoken to. Some consideration should be given to the reliability of your source – You want to know that the information you are taking is true. Oh, and remember to keep a log of your sources.
If I look at my first bullet point again, I need something that shows these celebrities are capturing an audience at a young age. Hannah Montanah is a good example of this. Hannah Montanah is a TV series that ran from 2006 to 2011 starring Miley Cyrus. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493093/) The TV show became hugely popular and began its own brand of merchandising including stationary, dolls and clothing (http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=hannah+montana+doll&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahannah+montana+doll). Both these points demonstrate that Hannah Montanah had a young target market which I will develop further later.
For my next point I want to talk about how certain female celebrities appear over-sexualised in the media. For this I’m going to look at some recent images of Rihanna and Miley which show them attending award ceremonies and fashion shows and there is an abundance of flesh on display. One shows Miley Cyrus dressed in very little (http://metro.co.uk/2013/11/10/mtv-emas-another-awards-ceremony-another-outrageous-outfit-by-miley-cyrus-4181523/) During New York Fashion Week, Rihanna showed up scantily clad yet again (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2746598/Rihanna-takes-underdressed-new-level-New-York-Fashion-Week-Altuzarra-show.html). The evidence here is photographic and I can look in further detail at how these women’s clothing choices support my point about women being over-sexualised in their dress choices.
My third point was to look at how they exemplify their worst behaviours. In this country we have a glut of minor celebrities made famous through reality shows. In July this year three members of the Made in Chelsea cast were embroiled in a drugs scandal (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2681793/Made-Chelsea-trio-drugs-tweet-scandal-Binky-Louise-Jamie-pictured-table-covered-drug-paraphernalia-Independence-Day-party-New-York.html). everything about the way it was covered and then brushed away suggests that there was nothing wrong with their behaviour.
My fourth point was that other females should be promoted for their positive messages. Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Addlington and Nicola Adams all exemplify a healthy and driven lifestyle (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/18913924). There are actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson or Emma Stone who also create a positive image to follow. Jennifer Lawrence discusses positive body image, Emma Watson has spoken out about equal rights for all and Emma Stone chooses roles that give a positive message – look at her role in ‘The Help’ where her character contributes towards the civil rights movement in America.
4) So I’m almost ready to start writing my main piece. I’ve considered my main argument, I’ve plotted my sub-arguments and I’ve collected evidence to back up what I’m saying. At this point I would probably re-organise my notes, either on a sheet of paper or a word document, so I could see the order in which all this information is going. I now need to start thinking about my narrative style. Am I going to be really formal? do I want to sound scathing? would it be appropriate to sound a bit more informal and use slang terms?
As a last point, I also need to think about how I am going to frame this essay. What am I going to say in my introduction that will catch a reader’s attention whilst making clear to them the argument I am discussing and my stance on it. What will I say in my conclusion to leave my reader thinking and show my stance once more.
Take a look at part 2 to see how the discursive essay turned out. Part 3 gives you a bank of words to use in putting your essay together.