Common Core Standards: ELA
4. Production and Distribution of Writing: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
So now that we know how to write an argument, an explanatory text and a narrative, we need to know which one is appropriate when. Most people know, for example, that you shouldn’t write to a future employer in the same way you would to a friend—
Dear Mr. Givemeajob:
I think I’d be perfect for the sales position because I just bought a raspberry lipgloss that would match the uniform I’d wear. I got the raspberry lipgloss because the cherry reminded me of the guy I thought was a total creeper but who turned out to be my friend Kelly’s dad who worked at the Kool-Aid factory. It’s a good thing I did get the raspberry because the cherry would totally clash with the cute uniforms, and I really want to look good while I’m working because you never know when a cute boy will walk by and notice you.
So please hire me.
So other than NOT treating our future boss like our BFF, how can we tell what kind of writing is appropriate at what time? There are three indicators that should help us determine what form of writing we should use:
1. The task is the specific type of writing you will be doing. Are you writing an essay, a short story, a letter, a poem? About the only thing Ms. Notgettinghired did right above was structuring her writing as a letter, since her task was to write a letter.
2. The purpose is what you’re trying to accomplish with your piece. Do you want to convince your audience of something, explain something, or tell a story? Jen’s purpose above is to convince Mr. Givemeajob that she’s the right candidate for the sales job.
3. The audience is who is going to be reading your writing. You might be writing for your teacher, for little kids, for the President, for a future employer, or for your friends. Jennifer N.’s biggest mistake in her letter was writing for the wrong audience.
So these are the indicators that tell you what form of writing to use. What exactly makes up the correct form of writing? There are three elements of writing that you must focus on to make sure they conform with the task, purpose and audience:
1. The development of your writing is the pre-writing you do before you put pen to paper (or, let’s be honest, fingers to keyboard). Even if you have never completed an outline, an idea web or a brainstorming session, you have still developed your ideas about your writing before you started. For essays, you’ve done research about quotations that would back up your argument. For short stories, you’ve thought about what will happen when and to whom. For poems, you’ve figured out words that rhyme with orange before you started your ode to citrus. For each type of writing, you do a different kind of development.
2. The organization of your writing is how it is structured. We all remember that annoying paper clip that shows up when we’re typing a letter in certain word processing programs. “You look like you’re writing a letter,” it says, after knocking on the monitor glass. “Would you like some help?” Well, how do you think that paper clip knows you’re writing a letter? Because you have organized it like a letter. You have started with a salutation, and then move on to writing the body of the letter.
A letter doesn’t look like an essay, and neither one looks like a poem, and none of those necessarily look like a story – so each type of writing has its own organization.
3. The style of your writing is, for lack of a better word, how the writing “sounds.” Jennifer Notgettinghired has an informal conversational style. In other words, she sounds like she’s talking to a friend, rather than writing to an employer. The words, grammar and phrasing you choose all affect your style.
Hello there, Shmooper. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to match the task, purpose and audience of the following writing assignments to the correct development, organization and style. (This message will not self destruct in thirty seconds.)
Writing Assignment 1
Write an essay comparing the relative awesomeness of pirates versus ninjas.
Task: An essay
Purpose: To prove either pirates or ninjas are more awesome.
Audience: Anyone interested in the debate over pirates and ninjas.
Writing Assignment 2
Write a description of the last time you got into a fight with a family member.
Task: A narrative
Purpose: To describe a fight
Audience: Any reader who would like to read about the latest family caper, or the average Jerry Springer audience member.
Writing Assignment 3
Write an explanation of how cheese is made.
Task: Explanatory or informational text.
Purpose: To educate the reader about the cheese-making process
Audience: Students interested in becoming cheese-heads…er, that is, cheese mongers.
Writing Assignment 4
Convince Mr. Givemeajob to give you a job.
Purpose: To convince a future employer to hire you
Audience: Mr. Givemeajob
Writing Assignment 5
Write a poem about pirates and ninjas eating cheese.
Purpose: To create a beautiful work of word art about our favorite subjects.
Audience: Poetry lovers.
Possible methods of development:
1. Research pirates and ninjas. In order to write a well-thought out essay, you would need some support of your idea that either pirates or ninjas are more awesome.
2. Come up with a list of rhyming words. In order to create a poem, you would want to think ahead of time about what rhymes with “cheddar.” (Hints: better, letter, Irish Setter, go-getter).
3. Interview someone who makes cheese. To explain how cheese is made, you must first know how it’s done.
4. Talk to the family member you most recently fought with. Before writing about your most recent fight, you might need some reminders about what exactly happened. This might also be a good time to re-start the fight, if you’re still feeling sore about it.
5. Make a list of your marketable skills. To convince someone you’re the right person for the job, you’ll want to make sure you know what makes you a good worker.
Possible methods of organization:
1. Salutation, body paragraphs, closing, signature. This is the standard organization for a letter.
2. Rhyming stanzas. There are all kinds of ways to organize poems, but this would be an appropriate organization method.
3. Dialogue, pacing, description, reflection. These are the elements of a narrative.
4. Thesis statement with evidence as support. This is what you must have for an effective essay argument.
5. Information presented in specific steps. This organization will help you to write your explanation.
1. Informal and conversational. This is appropriate for a narrative.
2. Formal and academic. This is most appropriate for an essay you write to convince someone of your opinion.
3. Flowery (using many metaphors and similes). This is appropriate for a poem.
4. Formal and business-like. This is most appropriate for a business letter.
5. Instructional. This is most appropriate for an explanatory essay.