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The Journey



A sophomore student of rhetoric is no callow youth. He has some experience with writing and argument and is ready to start composing more on his own. The first thing is to learn to write arguments, confirmation and refutation. The confirmation is the actual laying out and organizing of the arguments and what supports them. The refutation is the points a rhetor prepares in advance to counter his opponent's arguments. To do this they need to research the issue. Being able to write the refutation as well as the confirmation will go a long way to winning the mock trial or whatever debates the rhetor engages in. A commonplace is a type of argumentative writing exercise. The student argues a generally held idea instead of something specific. The arguing of a commonly held belief is much more difficult than addressing prepared, specific issues that are studied. It forces the rhetor to come up with reasoning to things that are not clear-cut or have specific research (Crowley 396-8). It goes a long way to helping students learn how to structure and lay out their arguments.

The sophomore student has "a bit of writing under their belts. They've improved their craft and probably also their content and they're starting to get restless. Just how long does it take to get published, anyway? And how do you write one of those book proposal things? And do I really have to meet editors? Does anybody ever actually get published by going to writer's conferences? Why can't those editors see that my book is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius and just publish the thing?" (Ingermanson).

Yes, this is the stage I'm in. I've met a few editors, one liked what I had to say, and the others didn't. I'm hoping to finish the first draft of my manuscript over the holidays, polish, figure out the rest of the series and send a proposal to the agent waiting to see it. The other thing I have to do is send a query to the editor who expressed interest in my work. It's a scary but fun place to be. In five years I'll look back on this (hopefully) published series and go "my God what was I thinking?" because my writing will be a hundred times better. In the meantime these are some of the things a sophomore writer should work on, read books, talk to people and above all keep working on the craft. A great technique suggested by Quintilian is to paraphrase your own work (Crowley 375). There's no better way to get to know your manuscript than to take a section and rewrite it. You might find out you like the rewrite better. In which happy case you now have new ideas or a tighter weave to incorporate into your current section. Unless you constantly reread the whole thing every day you are very likely to forget what's been written in earlier chapters or scenes. Ingermanson advises spending a year at each level and at the sophomore stage work on proposal skills and help as many people as you can because later on they will help you. I can only say that I found this to be absolutely true from personal experience and in the very best way possible way because someone I helped made many of my dreams come true with possibly more to come from their act of kindness.