Posts Tagged ‘Audience’


Peanut Butter and Jelly

   Posted by: Admin    in Audience

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Audience

A couple weeks ago, I had my two composition classes do the old describe the steps for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich exercise.

It went very well, especially in the early morning class (they are just better, more engaged students overall).

We did it because we were talking about informative writing, speciifically instructions. It seemed like an easy way to bring the idea home to them that it is harder than you think and you really have to know who your audience is.

The fun part is when they switch papers with someone and then have to actually literally follow the instructions and make a sandwich for real (I went through a couple loaves of bread and a jar of peanut butter and a jar of grape jelly).

Most people were really nice about interpreting the instructions, but I had a few who kept it real and did follow the instructions exactly, ending up with one slice of bread with jelly on top and then another slice of bread and then peanut butter on top of that, and such.

I’ll definitely use it again in future classes. But, what struck me was how important it is to define audience from the very beginning. I knew this, intellectually, from my study of rhetoric, but it never really hit home for me before.

As a writer of technical documents or of stories or novels, my very first step should be to define who I am writing for so I meet their needs. I think that is why poor writing like in Eragon, Eclipse, and Harry Potter have succeeded so well as books – because they are meeting a need with a specific audience (OK, so maybe not with Eragon, it’s just his publisher parents).

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