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Invention Exercise I

Page history last edited by Jane Asher 9 years, 5 months ago



Invention Exercise I Assignment


Invention is not simply about finding a topic. It also involves exploring and analyzing that topic, examining your thoughts, and developing points.



For this invention exercise, you need to compose a solid paragraph or two (typed in MLA format) in which you describe your topic and direction for Essay I.   


1. You should begin  by explaining some basic details about the specific situation, event, or set of events from your life that you plan to write about.

2. The remainder of your invention assignment should explore the significance of this event (why it is important for both the writer and the reader).

       These questions should help you figure out the significance of your event/situation:


     How did I change? (Who was I before and after the situation?)

     Why did the event or situation occur? What forces were at work?

     Did I realize the significance of the event at the time? Why or why not?

     What do I see now that I didn't see then? What did that younger person not understand?

     Why was the event or situation important to me?

                    Did it help me to understand myself as a man or a woman?

                    Did it help me to grow intellectually? Spiritually?

                    Did it help me to see myself in a different way?



As you analyze, remember that the goal is not simply to tell a story about your past, but to discover something meaningful--something that can be shared with and valued by others.


Take your time with this invention process. If you are unable to explore these complex questions about your topic, then you should probably determine another event/situation to write about.


Invention Workshop 1 (to be completed in class)




Invention Workshop: Narrative Essay


Using the written Invention Paragraph as a guide, X (partner 1) presents his/her Narrative Essay plans to Y (partner 2) by (1) explaining some basic details about the specific situation, event, or set of events from your life that you plan to write about and (2) describing the significance of the event /why you chose to write about the event.


After Y understands X’s topic, X and Y should start a dialogue that focuses on X’s topic in order to (1) evaluate the quality of the topic (and come up with a better one if need be), (2) assess the scope/focus of the topic (and narrow it down or expand it if need be), (3) analyze the complexities of the experience, and (4) think about public resonance.


(1) and (2)  BASIC REQUIREMENTS/Use the following questions to start the conversation:

  • At this point, does the chosen topic work well for this essay?  Does it focus on a meaningful, personal story? Is it a story that can be fully and efficiently developed in 2-4 pages, or is the story too expansive or too complicated for a short narrative?
  • If the proposed topic is too expansive, brainstorm ways that the author may be able to condense it in some way. Or, if the proposed topic does not fit the genre (narrative/personal story) or if there is really no lesson to be taken away from the memory/lacks conflict, then help the author brainstorm a new topic.


(3) SO WHAT? Help the author discover/refine a focused insight worth sharing with others by posing the following questions to your partner:

  • What could you now tell that younger version of yourself?
  • What hidden forces were at work?
  • Why didn’t you understand things differently back then?


(4)  WHO CARES? WHY SHOULD WE CARE?  What you discover about your past should suggest something for the lives of your readers. Dealing with public resonance means addressing the connection between your particular memory and a public or shared issue. In order to explore the rhetorical situation and “enter a larger conversation,” discuss the following questions:

  • What public issue is related to your memory and how?
  • What does your memory reveal or show about the nature of____________(Childhood? Teenagers? Towns? Families? Schools? Teachers? Religious Institutions? Education? Gender Stereotypes? Growing Up? Suffering? Healing? Parenthood? Childhood? Family Dynamics? Authority? Prejudice? ) You get the idea…Explore the larger context/the issues at work in the story in order to find universal appeal.
  • Who might relate to your memory? And, why might they relate to your memory (pathos)?
  • How will you appeal to ethos—use your credibility, expertise, and ethics to persuade your reader?


Throughout this conversation, X should jot down ideas on his/her Invention Exercise Paragraph.


Once X has gathered some good feedback about his/her topic, switch roles and follow the instructions in order to explore Y’s topic.


When you (X and Y) are finished, sign your partner’s Invention Exercise Assignment Paragraph, and before you leave, make sure that I check in with your group and sign your assignments.                          


Have fun. Think hard. Dig Deeper. 



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