Compositional Risks - Burnet Middle School

a transition word to help take the reader from one part of
the essay to the next
•Begin each paragraph with a transition word, followed by a
Transitions continued…
Addition: also, again, as well as, besides, coupled with, furthermore, in
addition, likewise, moreover, similarly
Consequence: accordingly, as a result, consequently, for this reason, for
this purpose, hence, otherwise, so then, subsequently, therefore, thus,
thereupon, wherefore
Generalizing: as a rule, as usual, for the most part, generally, generally
speaking, ordinarily, usually
Exemplifying: chiefly, especially, for instance, in particular, markedly,
namely, particularly, including, specifically, such as
Illustration: as an illustration, for instance, for one thing, illustrated with,
as an example, in this case
Emphasis: above all, chiefly, with attention to, especially, particularly,
Similarity: comparatively, coupled with, correspondingly, identically,
likewise, similar, moreover, together with
Exception: aside from, barring, besides, except, excepting, excluding,
exclusive of, other than, outside of, save
Restatement: in essence, in other words, namely, that is, that is to say, in
short, in belief, to put differently
Transitions continued…
Contrast/Comparison: contrast, by the same token, conversely,
instead, likewise, on one hand, on the other hand, on the contrary,
rather, similarly, yet, but, however, still, nevertheless, in contrast
Sequence (use in topic sentences): at first, first of all, to begin
with, in the first place, at the same time, for now, for the time
being, the next step, in time, in turn, later on, meanwhile, next,
then, soon, later, while, earlier, simultaneously, afterward, in
conclusion, with this in mind
Summarizing (use in closing sentences): after all, all in all, all
things considered, briefly, by and large, in any case, in any event, in
brief, in conclusion, on the whole, in short, in summary, in the final
analysis, in the long run, on balance, to sum up, to summarize,
Direction: here, there, over there, beyond, nearly, opposite, under,
above, to the left, to the right, in the distance
Compositional Risks
A “compositional risk” refers to an attempt by an author to do
something interesting, engaging, and unusual with his/her writing.
Successful compositional risks make your writing unique in a good
way; unsuccessful compositional risks make it unique in a bad way.
It is a “risk” because your attempt might make the writing great,
but if it doesn’t work, it could make the writing terrible.
Rhetorical Questions
Use In: Essays
Rhetorical questions are questions that a speaker or writer
asks an audience as a way to get the audience thinking about a
specific topic in a specific way. When you ask a rhetorical
question, you are not expecting a reply. Rhetorical questions are
phrased so that most sensible people will arrive at a specific
answer, an answer that the writer already knows before he or she
even asks the question. Using this strategy serves as a way for
the writer to make a point about a topic and to get the reader to
agree with the author’s opinion right away.
Some things to avoid:
 DO NOT “talk” to the reader through your rhetorical questions.
 DO NOT use the word “you” in your rhetorical questions.
 DO NOT make your rhetorical questions too simplistic (example,
“Should people be encouraged to kick puppies?”)
Figurative Language
Use in: Persuasive, Speculative, and Explanatory Essays
Note: Make sure your figurative language makes sense, and that the
reader will understand the figurative reference.
Common Types of Figurative Language Used in Essays:
 Simile: a comparison using like or as. This tool allows the writer to create
interesting and unusual comparisons that might help the reader see the topic
in a new way.
 Metaphor: a comparison without the use of like or as. Like the simile, a well
written metaphor allows the writer to create interesting and unusual
comparisons that might help the reader see the topic in a new way.
 Onomatopoeia: The use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the
objects or actions they refer to. This device words well in speculative writing,
but should be used sparingly in persuasive and explanatory writing.
 Personification: giving human traits to objects that are not human. This
device also works best in speculative writing.
 Alliteration: the repetition of an initial consonant sounds. This device should
be used in speculative writing and can be used VERY SPARINGLY in persuasive
and explanatory essays – it can be very effective when emphasizing a point.
Used in: Speculative, Persuasive and Explanatory Essays
Note: Be sure to use the words correctly and
remember good writing uses the fewest possible
words to make a point.
Try to incorporate words that most effectively convey your
Be specific (example, saying something is blue might work,
saying it is aqua might work better.)
Be careful not to just throw in “fancy” words especially if
you are not 100% certain that you know what they mean.
It is better to stick with simpler words you know well then
to use a word incorrectly just to impress the reader.
Try to incorporate some of the words of the week into your
Use in: Speculative, Persuasive, and Explanatory Essays
Note: incorrect grammar, punctuation, or sentence
structure can cost you points.
Using many different types and kinds of writing
demonstrates to the reader that you know the rules of
Use the four different kinds of sentences in your essays:
declarative, imperative, interrogatory, and exclamatory.
Write sentences of varied length. Short sentences make
the reader’s eyes stop frequently, suggesting stop and go
movement in the writing. Medium length sentences are
good for providing information.
Using varied sentence lengths allows you to demonstrate
your command of punctuation.
Use in: speculative, persuasive, and explanatory essays.
Note: It can be hard to find the balance between “not enough” and “too
much” description.
Any time you write, you should always try to include clear, easy to understand
descriptions that let the reader see exactly what you are talking about. You can’t
describe every item in detail, you have to pick and choose the important parts of
your writing and carefully select the parts that will have the most impact for the
reader and which are most important to your story or essay.
Consider using figurative language in your descriptions
When describing physical objects or situations, you should think about including
the following: color, size, number, sound, mood/emotion. – see below for more
Color: Don't just say "green", be specific about what shade or hue, and feel free
to get into some similes and metaphors or other comparisons to help the reader
picture it exactly as you see it in your head.
Example: The leaves of the tree in spring were glittering emeralds,
shimmering in the light; in places, the green was as dark as a shadow at midnight,
while in others, it sparkled like LED beacons.
Size: As with color, be specific and give easy-to-relate-to comparisons that allow
the reader to get a strong mental image of what you're describing.
Example: Instead of saying, "The horse was big"... My father, a tall man,
was dwarfed by the horse; his head barely reached the beast's shoulders. It had to
be nearly ten feet tall from the ground to the tip of its ears.
Number: This requires walking a fine line; you don't have to say, "There were 4,692 flies
buzzing around the rotten fruit," but you also want to say more than, "There were a few flies"
if there were a large number of them. You can use descriptions of the situation and
comparisons to help the reader get an idea of the number without actually having to specify a
single number (besides, who knows what 4,692 flies actually looks like?).
Example: So many flies were buzzing around and landing on the rotten fruit that, if I
hadn't known what I was looking at, I would have thought some sort of noisy smoke cloud as
large as a compact car was sitting before me, making it difficult to see past the spot.
Sound: Nowhere is comparison and analogy more important than when discussing sound.
There are few words that can accurately capture volume, and people have a very wide range of
tolerances for sound that one person's "loud" is another person's "inaudible".
Example: Instead of saying, "The music was loud"... The music coming out of the
speakers caused Jim's insides to shake and rumble. Items on his shelves were bouncing in time
to the beat, getting ready to jump to the floor, which itself was vibrating.
Mood/emotion: The word "happy" is rather weak, descriptively; it doesn't really provide
much in the way of intensity. A person who finds a penny might be happy, as might a person
who wins ten million dollars in the lottery, but they're probably not feeling the same level or
degree of that emotion. Many emotive words are similar. Again, the use of comparison can help
quantify for the reader the type and intensity of emotion.
Example: Instead of saying, "Marco was very sad"... Marco felt himself being pulled
down in a whirlpool of depression; he could feel it sucking him deeper and deeper into
darkness, choking off whatever breaths of happiness he tried to draw to help sustain him. The
deeper he went, the harder it pulled at him, until all he could feel was the crushing, numbing
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