By Darryl Ayo
Provocative headline, first paragraph supports headline’s claim, detail paragraphs seem to subvert those claims subtly, halfway through: the finer details of the author’s True Intent are revealed, finally, author doesn’t seem quite so extreme after all.
STOP. WRITING. THIS. ESSAY.
Say what you mean upfront. Use detail paragraphs to flesh out your intentions. Your conclusion is the same as your introduction, plus the knowledge that the reader understands the reasons for your assertion.
That’s how it’s done.
A lot of modern journalists, bloggers, essayists, writers are so fixated on this fallacy that they must provoke their readers and delay their essays’ thesis that they only succeed in provoking outrage.
One cannot insist “read the whole essay” when the writer is too coy or too dishonest to communicate to the reader in good faith without relying on incoherent provocations, misdirections and strawman arguments designed only to trick the reader or anger the reader (at which point, the “clever” writer unveils the truth of their intentions).
It is manipulative and it adds to an already-untenable culture of hyperbole, contrarianism, deceit and misinformation.
Always remember the adages about first impressions.
The first impression of your essay must be the truth of your convictions. Even using your cleverest rhetorical reversals, readers’ lingering impressions will be your initial statement of your essay.
Maybe because most writers are figuring it out as they write. First draft, stream of consciousness, no real editing. It’s one thing to struggle to a conclusion but it’s quite another to ask your unfortunate readers to struggle with you as you make up your mind about what you believe.
Tighten up, writer.