STUDENT SAMPLE – Strength is a Process, Not Just a Result

Personal Narrative by Adelyn (WRTG 3020 – Fall 2011)

Rhetorical Situation

Audience:  My audience has changed from who I was originally targeting… Instead of focusing on trying to talk to youth athletic coaches about making sure to use equal workouts for guys and girls (to ensure that ALL of their athletes achieve the highest level of skill and mastery that they are capable of), I now wish to aim my speech more towards the actually female athletes out there with coaches as more of a secondary audience.
Impact:  I wish to show them that they should take the harder approach, even when their coaches and teams allow them the easy way out.  I wish to really impact the girls out there, to make them think, about how something as simple as doing fewer pushups is really detrimental to their athletics.  On a even broader scale I would like to try and inspire women to reconsider often small, simple ways in which society reinforces negative stereotypes regarding what females can and can not do.
Conversation:  This message is delivered into the modern society which is constantly talking about equal rights for men and women.  But it is a debate that tends to be very philosophical (at least in my experience) and which tends to really be argued most passionately by older members of society.  Within the affluent youth of America there is so much talk about equal rights and often times small jokes are thrown around.  But so often these girls, who have the ability to achieve the most, do not stop to think about the everyday occurrences which still exist in concordance with negative female stereotypes.


There are negative stereotypes in today’s society regarding female performance in the athletic arena which are perpetuated through unequal workouts.  I have only recently realized this fact, and have decided that I will personally do whatever I have to in order to be the best I can be in any aspect of my life; not letting negative stereotypes me about my gender or surprised reactions from those around hold me back from excellence.

Composition Approach

Process:  I started writing my script long before I knew what type of digital media I wished to use to convey my message.  It was more important to me to decide what the actual message would be as a starting point.  I then went on to discuss with my peers and teacher what form of media they thought would be best to help convey my message most effectively (taking into account my low digital skills as well as my message content).  They all seemed to think that a video would be most effective, better to help convey certain aspects such as the fact that I present myself as a feminine girl, as well as being easier to follow.

After the script had been edited multiple times (taking into account my teacher’s recommendation to make it more personal and less of a social analysis), I began reading the script aloud without a video camera.  This led to even more edits.  And MORE edits.  Finally, I filmed my speech.  First I did a few complete run throughs without stopping.  Then I went back and spliced the speech; reading each section twice in a row with a short pause in-between.  Finally I picked the best reading of each section to combine, with short breaks to intersperse the quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt, to create a rough cut.  After the feed back I got from the rough cut in class, I went through a very similar process to create the final draft.  This time, using better lighting (for my eyes) and a better camera (for focus).

Technical Details:  I used a Kodak Zi8 HD camcorder and a Yeti USB microphone. The program I used for editing the video and sound was called CyberLink Power Director 9. I also used the free audio recording software, Audacity, with the Yeti microphone plugged in through USB to record my voice with higher sound quality. I deleted the audio recorded by the camcorder and spliced the recordings from the microphone to sync with the video. Then I split the video into segments that correspond to the quotes inserted using a built in text display box. I used another built in function to fade each video segment with its surrounding text boxes. For ambiance, I’ve added the song, “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” by Ryuichi Sakamoto in the background. The song wasn’t quite long enough so as it begins to fade out at the end, I input the start of the same song on a different audio track and had it fade out with the video, as the song would have continued for several more minutes, using a built in volume fader. Finally I had the video program create a .wmv file in order to export it in the correct format according to specifications designated by Amy (so that it would run correctly on Google docs).

Rhetorical Moves

In this essay I attempt to appeal to all approaches of persuasion; pathos, ethos, and logos.

Pathos:  I am trying to create an emotional response because of the personal nature of the story (this is after all my story about something that greatly impacted who I am today).  Because of this I included the emotionally shocking first paragraph about what my dad said to me a year ago as well as including small details (ex: color of my boyfriend’s eyes).

Ethos:  Through appealing to emotion, I also set the stage to be more credible to my audience.  Because this is something that happened to me, and that I was personally able to deal with fairly successfully, my message is more believable.  If it were a story about my friend’s friend or someone I read about, the credibility would be more in question.  Additionally, I bring in quotes from someone who is extremely well-known (Eleanor Roosevelt) and who also reshaped the way we think about female roles.  Thus bringing even more credibility to my story (not only is it something I experienced first-hand, others have done it in the public eye).

LogosAnd finally, I try to be very logic about the layout of my essay.  I clearly explain why the stereotypes exist (small average differences which are blown up into stereotypes thought to cover everyone), how they are perpetuated, and concrete examples from my life which support both of the above two points.

Eleanor Roosevelt:  As mentioned above, I chose Eleanor Roosevelt quotes to back up the idea that female stereotypes are often false and that we as females all need to individually step out and do what we believe we should do without letting stereotypes or other’s reactions hold us back.  I also thought that the quotes were wonderful as “headers” to break my speech into sections and to provide overviews for the coming commentary, thus making my speech even more listener-friendly.  Finally, her quotes allow me to speak about a very specific venue (athletics, and specifically track) but to lead my audience to consider my message with regard to the broader view of the entirety of negative female stereotypes.

My Incredible Progress this Semester!

Overall Progress:  This semester has been quit the learning experience to me… I have gone from someone who did not know how to do hardly anything in the digital realm (minus checking my email, writing in a Word document, and cruising Facebook), to have a good grasp on the basics.  While I would hardly claim to be an expert, I am extremely proud that I have been able to go outside of my comfort zone and try new things.  Before this class I wouldn’t use Macs except in dire circumstances and usually made a friend do what I wanted for me.   With Amy’s help I have been working on the Mac setting for the computers in class as well as not freaking out anytime I use a Mac!  I was also able to actually do my final project on my own, with only minimum help setting up by my more technically-suavy friend.  In the past I’ve also relied heavily on others to do simple things like film for me… 

I have also grown in my understanding of literacy, especially with regard to considering rhetorical awareness when writing.  While I have always read a lot and am able to write eloquently, really amazing writing doesn’t simple sound good; it impacts the audience in the way that the writer intends.  The most important part to conveying a message is intentionally deciding on who you want to write for, the venue and mode that will work best for doing so, and presenting it in the most easily accessed manner.  From WRTG 3020 this semester, I have really become aware of these steps to effective writing.  I know that this knowledge will continue to impact the way that I write (this also includes things like presentations or digital/visual means as well!).

Why am I Proud of this Project?:  As I mentioned above, I am very proud of this project.  I was able to step outside of  my comfort zone and actually struggle through the process of figuring out how to shoot and edit a video.  While it may not be impeccably edited or perfectly shot, it is a good first step for me.  Those of you who have long enjoyed doing digital projects and are more comfortable with computers may not fully understand how impressed I am with the progress I have made, culminating with this project.  I never had anything against technology, but I wasn’t used to using the complex digital things and so avoided doing things that involved figuring out how do to what I didn’t already know.  This class really taught me to process for figuring out new digital mediums/modes/technologies: TRY THINGS OVER AND OVER TILL IT WORKS (Googling things sometimes helps too lol).  

I am also proud of this project because it made me think about who I am and how I learned about gender and sex.  It was slightly painful to recall and really have to think about my dad’s initial reaction to my birth as a girl, but I think that by confronting this fact I really reaffirmed who I am.  It does nobody any good to hide from painful parts of their personal history.  My reflection for this project and the actual act of working through my thoughts and belief about my gender also taught me a lot and I’m proud that I was able to reveal how much this gender bias in sports/athletics really troubles me.  It may not be viewed as a “cool” thing to make such a big deal out of something so accepted by society.  It was therefore hard for me to put myself out there in such a blatant manner (even though I had to make my friends leave the room when I was filming…).  I know that my story may not seem as upsetting as some of those out there, full of discrimination regarding their sexual orientation or how horribly the those reactions by others affected them and how they often took these negative feelings out on themselves, but it feels like I really had to open up to share my story.  It is after all MY story and it is never easy to let others in on something so close to one’s self.


Click Strength is a Process for a link to the transcript of my project.