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  • Maria Li

Introductory Guide to Discursive Writing

Updated: Jun 26, 2021

Discursives are quite new around here. We're quite familiar with the usual creatives, persuasives and essays but not so much with discursives. With MOD C now requiring students to know how to write discursives, and often on the spot considering the unpredictability of the exam question, one needs to know what exactly constitutes as a discursive.

Basic Breakdown - what makes it different

  • Multi-perspective

The chosen topic to discuss should have at least two sides to argue. Any less, you're heading for a persuasive. But too many and you may not have enough time to discuss all of your points to a satisfactory degree.

The aim of having multiple perspectives is to invite the reader to reconsider their preconceptions and beliefs and provoke critical thought and discussion. This is different to persuasives which aim to END discussion!

  • Highly reflective and personal

To be engaging, use a strong voice but make sure to keep your view on the topic neutral. You can do this by using personal anecdotes and first person language. Personal anecdotes help to engage the audience and often act as a microcosm for issues happening in the world which can be helpful to provoke reflection.

However, be careful not to add anecdotes just for the sake of adding them in. Ask yourself whether or not it really adds to your piece. Otherwise you will just have irrelevant anecdotes convoluting your piece.

Another common mistake students often make is turning their whole discursive into an anecdote. A discursive is not a memoir or a creative! An anecdote should merely set up your issue and help you segue into your macro idea, NOT become your piece. Otherwise, the whole purpose of your piece is lost.

  • No set structure

There's none of that rigid topic sentence, context sentence, TQP checklist required here. Students have the freedom to dictate their own structure and style. However, some structures do work better than others. This requires experimentation and regular practice! However, to provide you with some guidance, keep an eye out for an upcoming blog on an example structure for discursive writing!

  • Meandering tone

Unlike creatives or essays where trailing off is essentially illegal, discursives welcome the off tangents. Going off tangent is a good way to introduce a different side to the issue you're discussing. It helps develop the meandering tone which is characteristic of the no-bias and thought provoking nature of discursives. A discursive takes readers on a journey. It is written to explore both sides of an issue, not persuade.

  • Low modality and speculative

Once again, a discursive should not take a clear stance. It should use low modality language and also rhetorical questions to encourage speculation and discussion.

Practice Zone

Well, that's our beginner's guide to helping you get discursives right. But of course without practice, there's no improvement.

Write a discursive, following the characteristics given above, on the following stimulus.

There's never enough time. One has to always keep moving forward.

Brainstorm possible ideas and then write!

Stay tuned and keep an eye out on our upcoming blogs - there may be one on an example structure for discursives coming out soon!

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