Writing discursive compositions (Secondary Level) (Part 2): Rationale behind discursive essays

By Patrick Tay

(To read part 1, please visit HERE.)

Before we discuss the reasons for writing discursive writings, let’s have a little quiz:

1. Do you aspire to be a columnist or commentary writer?

2. Do you like to discuss life and social issues instead of weaving a story from scratch?

3. Do you like to analyse societal/philosophical issues?

4. Do you enjoy considering societal/philosophical issues from different perspectives?

If you have answered “yes” to 2 or more of the questions above, it is rather likely you possess the necessary motivation to engage in discursive writings.

I believe that the world can generally be divided into two types of individuals, although a clear line cannot be drawn because all of us share attributes from both types. It is probably very common that one type dominates the other in any individual.

So, here are the two types of people:

“Kindness begets kindness.” What are your views?

i. Creatives: This is an individual who is interested in creating entities (at times abstract) based on concepts, thoughts, design, ideas etc. These individuals are more suited for personal or narrative writings. If you belong to this category, try taking a look at my previous blog series on storytelling.

ii. Analysts: This is an individual who tends to analyze things from various perspectives, and who is more interested in figuring out the whys of global happenings than creating fictitious tales from scratch. If you belong to this category, please continue reading this blog post series, of which the first part can be accessed here.

There are basically two main reasons why one would choose to write a discursive essay:

■ Expressing one’s thoughts into words: There is a reason why most self-help writers encourage us to put our goals into words. Analytical writings enable us to see things better when they are visually represented. And more importantly, visuals (especially when we are exposed to them continually) thrust us into action. Similarly, translating our mental analysis into words actually enhances our ability to interpret the subject matter much more accurately. This is why detectives draw visuals on white boards when investigating a crime and why corporate employees paste “Post-It” notes on white boards during the brainstorming phrase. Such a process coalesces one’s (or everyone’s, if it’s a team’s analytical efforts) thoughts into a visual process that is more logical and coherent. For an exercise, you can try thinking of an issue for a while, subsequently taking a journal and writing down your thoughts in it. Compare the two outputs and you will see for yourself that your analysis done in writing is usually the more cogent and coherent one. In fact, you will probably discover that there are extraneous details you have unconsciously placed in writing, something that you might not have recognized or identified when you are simply thinking away.

■ Understanding an issue from multiple perspectives: Writing discursive essays also enables you to understand issues from multiple perspectives. When you compare this with argumentative essays, you will realise that discursive essays represent a more balanced type of writing while argumentative essays are much more inclined towards the persuasive approach. Hence, as one engages in discursive writing to explore and identify perspectives targeting certain issues, it hones his judicious instincts. This is not to say that argumentative essays are of lesser value.

So, if you are a student or someone who is about to embark on a journey to write discursive essays, I strongly advise that you examine the two points above in greater detail. If you fit into either one or both categories, a large possibility of you having an interest or passion in such writings exists. However, it does not imply that you have a flair for such writing. To develop such a flair, stay tuned for my next post on discursive essay writing structures.

To continue to part 3, visit HERE.

The above post was published with the permission of English writing specialist Mr Patrick Tay. This first appeared on his BLOG.