This assignment will develop the skills of technical writing, document design, and adapting a piece of technical writing to a specific audience.
Choose a topic that you know a lot about, but which may not be familiar to a general audience. Example topics include a skill, a scientific or abstract concept, an object, an event in history, or an activity (such as a hobby or sport). Your instructor might select a topic like volcanoes, or one volcano in particular, such as Mount Erebus in Antarctica.
Write a technical description or explanation of this topic for a specialized audience of fellow enthusiasts or peers. (An example: your topic is the planet Saturn, and your description will be aimed at an audience of fellow stargazers/astronomer/outer space enthusiasts.)
Write a plain language description or explanation of this topic for a general audience. (Continuing from the above example, your description of Saturn will now be written for friends or family who aren’t interested in the planets and stars, but maybe want to know why you spend so much time at your telescope.) For both descriptions, complete the following pre-assignment question before you begin writing.
In a paragraph, define the following aspects of your rhetorical situation:
- What is the purpose of this description?
- As the writer, what are your motivations for writing this description? (other than completing the assignment.)
- What is the message?
- Who is your audience?
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