Janet Boyd

Learning Objectives

  • Find the rhetorical situation by/after reading a piece
  • Identify and use tone, voice, and style in your own work
  • Recognize the consequence of tone, voice, and style in the works of others

The college where I first started teaching writing called its freshman composition course “Logic and Rhetoric” after two of the three arts of discourse in the classical tradition (the third being grammar).* While the students could easily explain what logic is, they struggled with the definition of rhetoric; most of their responses were more or less a politer version of this succinct definition offered by one brave student: “bullshit.” While I was surprised that he dared say such a word in class, and I am equally surprised that our publishers have so kindly agreed to print it, this offensive word so directly and memorably brings us to the crux of the matter: that choosing how to express your meaning is every bit as important as the message itself, which is really what rhetoric is. Every time you go to write anything (and every time you open your mouth), whether actively conscious of the purpose or not, you are making decisions about which words to use and what tone to establish as you order your thoughts based upon what is appropriate for your intended audience in that context.

Determined as I was to enlighten the class about the more positive and powerful aspects of rhetoric, we used no textbook in the program that could edify us. This turned out to be a good thing, for, out of necessity, I invented a simple, little exercise for them that you will participate in here, now, and dazzle yourself with the rhetorical skills you already possess, skills that are crucial for your development as an academic writer. For purposes of comparison, I have also included responses from other student writers for you to consider—all of whom surprised themselves with their own rhetorical range and ability. First, I will give you five simple facts, nothing but the facts, as I did my students:

Who: Mark Smith

What: Murdered

Where: Parking garage

When: June 6, 2010; 10:37 p.m.

How: Multiple stab wounds

You might read such straightforward facts in a short newspaper article or hear them in a brief news report on the radio; if the person was not famous, the narrative might sound like this: Mark Smith was found stabbed to death at 10:37 p.m. on June 6th, in the local parking garage. Next, imagine that you are the detective called out to investigate the crime scene, which will, of course, demand that you also write and file a report of your findings. (In fact, many people who go into law enforcement are shocked to discover how much writing such a job regularly entails.)

Take a moment to visualize the five facts, and then pick up a pen or turn to your keyboard and write for five or so minutes as if you were that detective. In writing up the case (whoops, I have given you a clue), you may add or invent as many details as you see fit, but you may not alter the given facts. Go ahead. Get started on writing your report of the murder scene. Then come back and read the next section.

Getting in Touch with Your Inner Detective

Welcome back. While it is usually the detective who asks all the questions, we will proceed first with me grilling you not about the murder but about your report:

  • How does it begin? Where does it end?
  • What types of details did you find yourself adding? Why? What details did you omit? Why?
  • What kind of words did you choose?
  • What tone did you take? (I will admit, tone can be a tricky thing to describe; it is best done by searching for a specific adjective that describes a feeling or an attitude such as “pretentious,” “somber,” “buoyant,” “melancholic,” “didactic,” “humorous,” etc.).
  • How did you order your information?
  • And, since I am working under the assumption that no undergraduates have yet had careers in law enforcement, how did you know how to write like a detective would in the first place?

The answer I get to my last question invariably is “from television, of course,” nowadays particularly from shows such as the fictitious CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and reality-based The First 48. From such shows, and from detective movies or fiction, we get a glimpse not only into the work detectives are likely to do but also the language they choose. Gradually, and ever so subtly, we internalize this detectivespeak, which is more than just the jargon they use. Jargon is the terminology used by those in a particular profession or group to facilitate clear and precise communication, but this rhetorical tool is not limited just to the professional world. For example, anyone who participates in a sport uses the lingo specific to that sport, which is learned by doing. Doctors use medical jargon and lawyers use legal jargon, and they go to school specifically to learn the terms and abbreviations of their professions; so do detectives.

If you use any kind of slang words, you, too, use jargon, but if you studied these words in a book, they are probably not very hip or at least not very au courant. For slang is different in that it maintains a currency in a dual sense: it strives to be current, and it circulates among a select network of users. Jargon does not fall victim to fashion so easily as slang does, but it does have a similar effect in that they both exclude those outside of the community who do not understand the meanings of the words. And so purposefully in the case of slang and not necessarily purposefully in the case of jargon, the initiated constitute an “insiders club” for whom they themselves are their intended and best audience. When you write an academic paper, you are practicing how to use the jargon you have internalized through studying that discipline as you write for professors and students within that field.

Getting back to the detective writing . . . although you probably didn’t think much about whom your audience would be, who would read such a report, when you got started you probably had no problem deciding how to begin your narrative: Am I right that it starts with you arriving at the crime scene, and that you wrote in first person? Every piece of writing needs a starting point and a perspective, it is true, and the demands of the genre—in this instance the reports of detectives—shaped the very first words of your response. This is why I say with confidence that you worked your magic with more than just detective jargon. As much as I am aware of my audience here—so much so that I am trying to engage in dialog with you through my casual tone, my informal language, and my addressing you directly by asking you questions and anticipating your responses—ultimately the format dictates that our “conversation” remain one-sided.

As much as I wish I could chat with you about the report you wrote, I cannot. Instead, I offer you here the “detective reports” of students much like you, students taking freshman composition classes who were given just the five facts about the murder, to present some rhetoric in action.

“I arrived at the crime scene at roughly 22:45 (10:45) p.m.,” writes Jeannette Olsavsky; “headquarters had received a phone call at 10:37 p.m. about a dead body lying stabbed in the parking garage on Franklin Ave.” Ilya Imyanitov starts his report with: “My partner and I received a phone call at 11:02 p.m. from dispatch that a body was found in the parking garage on 34th and 5th. We were the first to arrive on the scene.” Here’s one more example: “On Saturday, June 6th, at 10:37 p.m., the Montclair Police Department received an anonymous call regarding a body found in the Hawk Parking Garage. Detectives Dan Barry, Randy Johnson, and I, Tamara Morales, were called to the scene. Upon arrival, we noted the cadaver was facing down and had multiple stab wounds.”

Did you notice all of the things that these reports do similarly? Mere coincidence? I think not. They obey the conventions of the genre (which is a word we will gradually define). All of these opening sentences note some kind of phone call that gets them to the scene of the crime, all of them establish more specifically the location, all of them note precise times (which could be of significance), all of them are in first person, and two of our detectives work with partners. While the similarities continue to multiply as the three reports unfold, we can discern from these few sentences alone that writers attend to how they order their information and that writers can aspire towards objectivity even when writing in the first person.

Since detectives are trained observers who search for clues to aid in the investigation of a crime, they provide written, first-hand accounts of the tangible evidence they find. They also speculate as to what might have motivated the criminal to perpetrate the crime. In short, detectives have an agenda: in their reports, our three student-detectives try to identify the victim, establish injuries and cause of death, and look for signs of foul play. They also hope to interview witnesses to corroborate their findings, and one lucky detective does. Detective Imyanitov “took down a statement from the [garage] attendant, Michael Portnick.” Portnick “states that he was making his rounds as usual,” and “he remembers checking his phone” when “he discovered a body that appeared to be stabbed to death.” Why such hesitation, Detective Imyanitov? You can tell from the verbs he uses (such as Portnick “states” and “remembers,” and the body “appeared”) that he is recording a version of the events he has not yet verified, and so he infuses his narrative with words that establish room for doubt. Through his diction, or choice of words, Imyanitov establishes a tone for his report that is formal, objective, inquisitive, and tentative all at the same time. Not surprisingly, Olsavsky’s and Morales’s reports adopt much the same tone, and all three also end the same way: with the call for a “full investigation” to ensue based on the preliminary findings.

These three detective reports, in fact all the detective reports I’ve ever collected from students, discuss to some degree the nature of the fatal wounds Mark Smith received. Now shift gears slightly to imagine that you are the coroner who is on duty in the city morgue when Mark’s body arrives. The coroner must do a full examination of the corpse and, what else, write up a report (trust me, there are few jobs out there that do not require writing). Visualize yourself in your new occupation, recall the “five facts,” and then take five minutes to write up your findings as a coroner might (remember, you may add or invent as many details as you like, but you may not alter the given facts). Really—go, write, and come back.

Cultivating Your Inner Coroner

Your first thoughts probably weren’t so much about audience this time, either; you were probably thinking hard about jargon, though. You know (from CSI or elsewhere) that coroners use very specific terminology that allows for precise and concise description, so to write a plausible report you had to muster up as many factual and pseudo-medical words as possible. In other words, your freedom to select words—to choose your diction—was limited greatly by the jargon of this profession, which means that the tone was also mostly dictated. Because a detective and a coroner have similar agendas in that they report causes, effects, and facts, and because they often present to similar audiences, their reports often assume a similar tone that is informative, authoritative, and forensic. But the tone of the coroner’s report is ultimately much more technical and is prescribed by the medical community. Every discipline has its own range of acceptable jargon, diction, and tone to be learned and applied.

So how does your report read? If it is like that of my students, you began it much like you did your detective report with the five, simple facts relating to the crime. After that, however, it diverges. It becomes focused on the body alone and for good reason—that’s all you’ve got to look at! Here I’d like to answer some relevant questions I asked but never addressed with regard to your detective report: what details did you include or omit and why? Of course the coroner cannot and does not include details about the parking garage, but what would stop him/her from recording whether Mark Smith was handsome or not, or whether the tattoo on Smith’s calf was cool or comical, or whether he reminded the coroner of his/her brother-in-law? You think this a dumb question, I know, because such subjectivity and personal observations do not belong in an official, objective report. Perhaps the question is dumb, but thinking about why it is dumb is not: even though you are not a real coroner (you just play one here) you have an awareness not only of what the genre demands but also what it rejects. You have a sense of what is appropriate in this context, and in many, many other rhetorical contexts, including when you assume the role of a student writing an essay (we are getting closer to a definition of genre).

What surprises me most about all the times I’ve asked students to write like coroners do is not that they can, even though this is the most difficult exercise in the group, but that they do not include the simplest information—a basic, physical description of Mark Smith. They tend to jump right into gory descriptions of what got him to the morgue but not anything like “The subject is a Caucasian male, is in his early thirties, about five feet, ten inches tall and 175 pounds; he has brown eyes and shoulder-length, dark brown hair. He has a birthmark on his left forearm and a two-inch scar in the vicinity of where his appendix would be.” Maybe students are just too eager to cover the “five facts” I have presented them; or maybe it is that they are not so eager to ponder Mark Smith as a real but dead person with personal features; or both.

After reporting the five facts in the first sentence of his coroner’s report, and adding that Mark Smith was found by an off-duty police officer, Brett Magura writes:

After post-mortem evaluation, it can be seen that only one of the six stab wounds was fatal. This stab came from behind, through the back and in between the ribs, puncturing the heart and causing internal bleeding. The fatal blow appeared to follow an effort to run away after the first five wounds occurred to the hands and arms. The wounds on the hands and arms are determined to be defensive wounds.

Magura concludes his report with the contents of Smith’s stomach and a blood-alcohol level assessment. Like many students, Magura identifies the locations of the wounds and the exact cause of death, and like many students he admirably gropes for the words that coroners use. Instead of “back” or “behind,” he might have substituted “posterior” and thrown in some words like “anterior” or “lateral” or “laceration,” I would venture, but his report is on target even if his and my jargon would benefit from some medical schooling.

Lecille Desampardo is the only student I’ve known to give the report a case number, “Murder Case #123,” which immediately suggests that her report is official and conforms to standards we would also find in Cases 1 through 122. Even better, one could easily keep track of and even reference such a report, which would be important if it should be needed as forensic evidence. Desampardo finds “remnants of some kind of black grease” in the stab wounds, and upon the miracles of further lab testing links it to the “Nissan Pathfinder owned by the victim.” Coupled with the “irregular shape” of the stab wounds, the murder weapon was a “monkey wrench” she concludes. What kind of weapon did you deduce killed Mark Smith? Was it a hunting knife or a butcher’s knife or scissors or something else? Does your report work to support that assumption? Chances are you found yourself knowing exactly what content to include but were frustrated at not having the 94 Janet Boyd exact words you desired at your disposal. In this rhetorical instance, you even know what it is you don’t know (which, unfortunately, can also be the case when you are first learning academic writing).

On the other hand, perhaps these words came easy for Kristin Flynn who writes,

Mark Smith was an amazing father, husband and good friend. His unfortunate murder and untimely demise come as a shock to all who knew him. Mark and I go way back [ . . . ]. His memory will be forever treasured, and it is truly a shame to have to say goodbye to him today.

Wait a minute? What happened to the knife, the parking garage, and the stab wounds? One would hope that such graphic details wouldn’t make their way into a eulogy.

Yes, the next exercise I want you to write is a short eulogy for Mark Smith, which is a speech of remembrance delivered at a funeral. This exercise is perhaps one of the easier ones to write, but that is only if you liked Mark Smith and can write in honesty; imagine how difficult it would be if you didn’t like him? So return now to the “five facts,” invent the details that you need, and work for five minutes or so to fulfill the rhetorical demands of the genre of the eulogy (which I hope you’ll never get much practice in).

Learning How to Say Goodbye

Many students get flustered with this exercise because they feel compelled to include all “five facts” while they intuitively know that an actual eulogy would not; the instructions I give require no such thing. I write “intuitively” here because, again, I cannot imagine that many of you are trained to write eulogies, and so you proceeded based on the knowledge you have internalized from your religion or culture. The example of the eulogy highlights very well the decisions all writers must make about what to include and what to omit based upon the expectations of the audience for whom they write (including an academic audience). You were probably rather surprised to read just on the heels of the coroners’ reports an excerpt of the eulogy Flynn penned because you were expecting more blood and guts. It is a good time to admit that I did this on purpose, and that in my classes I aim for this element of surprise as well; my students don’t know that they have been assigned different writing tasks relating to the facts of Mark Smith’s murder, and when they read them aloud without identifying the piece the contrasts stand sharp. After only a few sentences, though, the students recognize what genre it is they hear because of the various rhetorical cues they so quickly discern.

So what did you include in your eulogy? Of the five facts, you probably mentioned Mark Smith by his whole name at first, and thereafter by his first name to foster a sense of familiarity, and then did your best to avoid the other four facts entirely, facts the detectives must write about so extensively. Flynn mentions the “unfortunate murder” in her eulogy, which could be considered daring, but she does so to commiserate with others in their sense of “shock.” Notice, though, that she doesn’t say that Mark Smith “died” or “croaked” or was “offed”; okay, clearly “croaked” and “offed” are too indelicate, but why not “died,” which seems innocuous enough? She writes of Mark’s “untimely demise,” which is a euphemism.

When people replace a word that can be considered offensive, discomforting, or controversial with another term to make it seem less so, they have chosen a euphemism. Death provides an excellent example of something that makes us uncomfortable, and so we have many euphemistic synonyms for dying such as “to pass on,” “to leave this world,” “to be with God,” “to breathe one’s last,” and “to go to a better place.” Interestingly enough, we have many irreverent synonyms for dying in addition to “croak,” such as “to kick the bucket,” “to bite the big one,” “to push up the daisies,” or “to buy the farm,” which are colloquial and try to bring humor to this bothersome subject. Colloquial refers to language that is informal and usually spoken but not written (such as “ain’t” and “gonna”). These particular death colloquialisms can also be considered dysphemisms in that they exaggerate rather than soften what could be offensive. While colloquialisms and dysphemisms usually do not belong in academic writing, euphemism can serve its purpose depending on your tone.

But enough talk about talk. Let’s get back to the writing. Adi Baruch wrote her eulogy in the form of letter (also known as an epistle) to Mark Smith, which is a bit of a departure from the genre in its strictest sense, but she nevertheless avoids mentioning anything about the murder while still conveying that he has, well, left us:

Whoever knew quite how cruel life could be? Surely, neither you nor I. We’ve known each other for the past ten years, always growing closer. Unfortunately enough, for me and many others, your life has come to an end. We can no longer continue to make great memories together. . . . Your memory will live on with every life you’ve ever touched.

Does your eulogy sound like this? Is it written in first-person, is it evasive of specifics but generally positive, is the diction a bit stilted and the tone sentimental, wistful, and poignant? Does yours, like hers, eventually end with saying good-bye to the deceased (aka the dead person)?

Or does your eulogy sound more like this one from Micheal Lynch:

For those of you who knew Mark Smith as I did, I am sure you are not the least bit surprised to hear that he was murdered and quite violently with multiple stab wounds. Mark was our friend and our benefactor, but of course we all know he was a low-life criminal. With the number of enemies Mark made, I’m sure that the only surprise is that it took them until 10:37 p.m. on Saturday, June 6th to catch up with his sorry butt. It is ironic, you must agree, that he “bought it” in a parking garage since the only thing he ever did in a parking garage is rip off the things that everybody who parked there had brought! Yes, we’ll miss you Mark and those little surprises he used to bring to each of us. Rest in peace, buddy!

When we read this one aloud in class, much laughter broke out. Why is it funny? Because it runs contrary to our established expectations, and incongruity is often a source of humor. The students recognized that while Lynch conforms to the rhetorical conventions of eulogy— he writes in first-person, remembers the deceased fondly, and says goodbye—he also works against the conventions of the genre in terms of content, diction, and tone. In short, this incongruity makes the piece ironic, which Lynch might be trying to flag when he points to the situational irony of the location of the murder.

I imagine that Lynch, like many students, assumed he had to work in all “five-facts” and saw his way to a very creative solution; knowing that such facts don’t belong in a eulogy and wanting to respond to the assignment as he interpreted it, Lynch turned the genre on its head. He showed savvy in writing it and his classmates in laughing at it, for they all recognized how much one can push or play with a given genre and still maintain its identifiable qualities. The content is graphic, the diction is crass, and the tone is irreverent. Nonetheless, it remains a eulogy, one that would likely get recited among friends (but not family) with shots of whiskey in hand.

Herein we might find our definition of genre, which by necessity remains perpetually loose: when the traits or attributes considered normal to or typical of a particular kind of creative piece, such as in literature, film, or music, make it that kind and not another. For example, we know horror films when we see them and we recognize classical music when we hear it because we can classify these things according to the conventions of their genres. And we can identify the genre of the piece I am writing for you as an expository essay with its thesis, its body paragraphs of support and detail, and, as you will see, its conclusion, even if my tone is playful.

Whether or not Mark Smith was a low-life, petty thief as Lynch makes him out to be, the person who murdered him is most definitely a criminal, which brings us to our last rhetorical scenario. Your final task is to write a closing argument as if you were the prosecutor addressing the jury who will find the accused murderer guilty or not. Go ahead. Put on a suit and become a lawyer (in this profession, if you are not off researching you are usually writing), and then come back to see how your closing argument compares with the others.

Learning to Love Your Inner Lawyer

Notice how I kindly provided a big clue to get you started, since you’ve had so much to think about already. When you wrote the eulogy I did not call attention to the fact that your audience was friends and family, for whom you wrote nonetheless, but here I do remind you that you were to address the jury. This is your signal not to soften the blow of the loss of Mark Smith for your audience, as you did in the eulogy, but to write it big, to write it bold . . . perhaps to the point where you could be accused of exaggeration (in writing aka hyperbole). You must play upon your audience’s heartstrings here, too, of course, but you must balance it with cold, hard, irrefutable facts as per the genre’s demands. How did you begin?

Despite my clue, only some of your peers start their closing arguments as Christopher Traina and Ricardo Ataide did with the requisite and respectful “ladies and gentlemen of the jury” (Traina did admit that both of his parents are attorneys, but it is unlikely he attends any of the closing arguments they might make!). What effect does this address have? It alerts the members of the jury that what follows is directed specifically to them, reminds them of their important role, and helps to establish a rapport between them and the attorney. The closing argument is a good example of how the different rhetorical tools available carry different weight given the rhetorical situation.

Although awareness of audience is always hugely important when one goes to write anything, a direct address is not, which we see with the lack thereof in the detective’s and coroner’s reports. They write for an implied audience (as you do in your academic writing), which is more often than not comprised of attorneys and, funnily enough, eventually of judges and juries (which is why their work is ultimately forensic). Furthermore, when it comes time to communicate to the jury how Mark Smith was murdered, the attorney would do best to translate the medical jargon of the coroner’s report into layperson’s terms, or language for people who are not experts; plain, simple diction would prevail over sophisticated jargon in this context. And while the detective’s and the coroner’s reports should be devoid of emotion, just as the eulogy should be saturated with it, the attorney aims to persuade the jury with both objective facts, what Aristotle calls logos, and simmering emotion, what he calls pathos; and lastly, depending on the lawyer, the jury will also likely be persuaded by his/her ethos, or credible character.

Appealing to his jury in first person, Traina states for “what reasons” the “accused” committed the “heinous murder . . . you and I will never know. But I do ask you to do what is right. That is when you go to deliberate, you remember the grieving family. Remember the horrendous photos. Remember the lack of emotion on the accused’s face. You must remember all of these facts, find the defendant guilty, and put him in jail where he will not be a danger to society. I thank you for your time and hope for your diligence in [reaching] your verdict.” Traina charges the jury with the moral duty to do what is right based on the evidence provided while he also beseeches them—in short sentences of parallel form that one can imagine him articulating very slowly and deliberately—to dwell not only on the family’s agony but on the defendant’s lack of remorse. This appeal to emotion (aka pathos) doesn’t alter the facts per se, but it provides a less than neutral lens, a bias, through which the attorney hopes the jury will view them (although in academic writing one is often encouraged to avoid such bias). The tone Traina establishes is one full of urgency and gravity for the case and also of reverence for the jury, whom he thanks at the end and so maintains the rapport he initially established.

You might find that your closing argument reads so much like Traina’s that they can be considered “generic” closing arguments. Or maybe you went the route that Ataide did, which is to highlight the significant points of the investigation as you constructed a summary— a conclusion. Ataide looked a bit at the criminal mind of the defendant who “harbored feelings of despair and hatred for quite some time” before murdering his former professor, all of which are documented “in his emails and Twitter updates.” Ataide concludes his argument by directly reminding the jury that while the professor “will never again teach a class, you have the opportunity to teach the accused, Lucas Brown, a lesson here today. A conviction should be your only choice.” This clever twist on teaching a lesson provides eloquent closure to his argument.

Or perhaps you, like Chelsea Vick, felt mounting drama to be the most persuasive approach. She tells the jury that “the defendant has not only physically stabbed my client Mark Smith; he has stabbed the judicial system. Every entrance wound on my victim’s body is another blow to the system our government runs on.” She, like Traina, conjures up fear with the prospect of returning such a person to the streets, and she, too, “leaves you [the jury] to deliberate whether to send a murderer to jail or to another parking garage.”

By making reference to the “system our government runs on,” Vick plays with the sometimes subtle line between the connotation and denotation of words. What a word denotes is its literal definition or what you would find should you look it up in the dictionary, but words have connotations, too, which are the emotional associations, positive or negative, we bring to them. While an apple pie denotes a dessert made of sliced apples and sugar baked in a single or double flour crust, in the United States it can also conjure up positive emotions about home and/or patriotism about country. We imagine apple pies to be lovingly-baked by apron-clad moms who raise citizens who are, well, as the saying goes, “as American as apple pie.” Vick’s comment that the defendant has metaphorically “stabbed the judicial system” in addition to Mark Smith is meant to produce negative connotations beyond the actual murder; she conjures up the looming threat that our entire way of life would be at stake should the jury do anything other than convict the defendant.

If we envision in our minds the passionate delivery of these closing arguments, we might imagine that we have finally come close to the first definition of “rhetoric” that the American Heritage Dictionary online offers us, which is “the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively,” rather than that one-word definition my brave student once proffered. Yes, our attorneys all did perform admirably in their endeavors to persuade the jury with their words, but we find examples of effective rhetoric in all of the writing scenarios we have considered.

Here I offer my definition: rhetoric is what allows you to write (and speak) appropriately for a given situation, one that is determined by the expectations of your audience, implied or acknowledged, whether you are texting, writing a love letter, or bleeding a term paper. When you go to write, you might not always be actively aware of your audience as an audience. You may not even consciously realize that you are enacting certain rhetorical strategies while rejecting others. But each time you write you will find yourself in a rhetorical situation, in other words within a context or genre, that nudges you to choose the right diction or even jargon and to strike the right tone.

In this essay, I put you in three rhetorical situations for which you have no formal training—writing hypothetically as if you were a detective, a coroner, and a lawyer—and you knew what to do, as you did with the eulogy. This shows the extent to which we absorb and internalize our rhetorical tools by watching media, reading books, and participating in our culture. More importantly, you can now see that when I told you at the beginning that you are already in possession of the rhetorical skills necessary for mastering the genre of academic writing and that you need only apply them, I wasn’t just feeding you a bunch of bull.



  1. Which of the exercises did you find easiest to write? Why?
  2. Which of the exercises did you find hardest to write? Why?
  3. What does the rhetorical situation of academic writing demand? Who is the audience? What tone is appropriate? What jargon might be needed? What information might be included and/or rejected in an academic paper?



  1. Oddly enough, my moment of inspiration came when I got on a bus to commute to New York City and found myself sitting next to the famous author and columnist Anna Quindlen. Thanks, Anna!
  2. While coroners are forensic scientists, the terms are not exactly synonymous, for forensic actually means “legal,” and a forensic scientist can be anyone in the discipline who gathers evidence of interest in legal matters.
  3. And I would add, unfortunately for Mark, too!

Work Cited

“Rhetoric.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2003. Houghton Mifflin Company, n.d. Web. 24 July 2009.

This essay originally appeared in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Vol. 2.


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