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Tutor profile: Collyn D.

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Collyn D.
Writing Tutor, Fellow, and Scholar
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

During the revision step of the writing process, concerns that may arise in the draft are often categorized into two tiers. How would you describe these tiers and what types of revisions fall in each?

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Collyn D.
Answer:

When revising one of my drafts or reviewing the draft of a peer, I first only address what are often called "higher order concerns." These are issues concerning whether the thesis of the paper is well-written, whether the ideas within paragraphs are clear and flow in a logical way, and whether the transition from paragraph to paragraph is smooth and reasonable. After all of these issues are addressed then it is time to start addressing what are called "lower order concerns." These are sentence-level concerns within the draft such as punctuation, grammar, and style. This order is crucial to the writing process because I need to make sure that all of my strongest ideas are present and in the right paragraphs before I begin to refine the ideas stylistically. If I were to focus on sentence-level grammar and style first, I may find the work would be undone if I did need to add or move ideas into or throughout the draft. Additionally, it's much easier to make stylistic choices when your certain that the information and organization of the draft is satisfactory.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

Colons, semicolons, and dashes can all be used to directly combine two independent clauses. Under what circumstances is each mark used properly? Provide an example of each.

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Collyn D.
Answer:

Understanding the difference between colons, semicolons and dashes when combining two independent clauses is a great way to add some flavor to your writing! When deciding which punctuation to use, you should ask yourself, "what is the relationship between the two independent causes I'm combining?" We use a colon to combine two independent clauses when our latter clause is clarifying our former clause. Example- "Jimbo is like my dog: he only comes around when I have food." Dashes are used when there is a change in the speaker's thought or tone between the two clauses. Example- "Our convict couldn't have shot the bartender-- there's still dust on his gun." Lastly, semicolons are used when there is a neutral relationship between the two clauses your combining, that is, when each clause has it's own meaning, not modified by the other. Super spooky example- "Ghosts are in the house; they are always listening."

Subject: Communication

TutorMe
Question:

Explain rhetorical exigence and why it is useful to be aware of when preparing/analyzing discourse.

Inactive
Collyn D.
Answer:

Rhetorical exigence is the foundation upon which a discourse is constructed; it is the validation of the other pieces of a discourse (speaker, audience, message) and the purpose of the discourse. Whether it's a supervillain's monologue before they attempt a grand escape or you saying thank you when someone holds the door, all discourse is purposeful, even if we don't think about it while speaking/writing. Perhaps the supervillain was speaking to distract the hero from the fact that his goons were sneaking off with a hostage. You probably said thank you simply because they held the door. The goons taking the hostage and the holding of the door so that you could walk through both caused a member of each scene to engage in discourse, and therefore, is the exigence of each rhetorical situation. This can be a little tricky, so another great way to think of exigence is that it's the problem the discourse is deployed to solve. The villain knows his goons will get caught if he doesn't distract the hero, so he speaks. The door-holder will think your rude if you don't say "thank you", so you do. Exigence is the thing that needs solved or changed via discourse, therefore the reason the discourse occurs. Understanding a rhetorical situation's exigence is crucial to developing a sophisticated understanding of a discourse because it is the line on which all other rhetorical elements must walk in order for the speaker to be rhetorically successful. When the door is held open for you, you are the speaker, the door-holder is the audience, and "thank you" is the message; all of these are decided by that one event. If analyzing a discourse were putting together a jig-saw puzzle, finding the exigence would be like putting together all the outside pieces, it helps you build inward towards more complex or abstract pieces. Knowing that the villain is attempting to distract the hero helps us understand why they were going on about their evil plan in intricate detail. Similarly, when creating your own discourse, it's important to remind yourself of that discourse's exigence because it will help you decide what types of rhetorical appeals (logos, pathos, ethos, kairos) will be most effective.

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