Example of the 'Movies of the Reader's Mind' Technique


An exercise in English 376 was to comment on a paper written by a Core student in which the assignment was to analyze a story or incident from one text. His first paragraph reads:

Man's perception of the perfect woman goes against all normal and religious thought. The women that are deemed the most attractive don't even come close to symbolizing what a woman should really be. The women that should be desired are large, full figured, smart, and tough. A man should only choose woman for two reasons, the first being for companionship, and the other is breeding potential. Breeding is what keeps the human race alive and it should not be taken for granted (An Offensive Paper).

My commentary to this paragraph went as follows:

After reading this paragraph I'm unsure of what your paper is going to be about. Since this is your introductory paragraph, the topic of your argument should be its focus. You make a couple of firm statements ("The women that should be desired..." and "A man should only choose women for two reasons...") Are either of these two statements going to be the focus of your analysis? Also, the assignment is to analyze a story or incident from one of the texts. The story or incident should be in this introductory paragraph.

By telling this student what was going through my head while I was reading, I made him aware of the reader's immediate reactions. The goal of any piece of writing is to communicate something to a reader. A poem may be written to invoke feelings of loss while an analysis of an incident is written to critically examine and present its details. This Core student most likely wants his readers to understand his analysis. My commentary informs him that his introduction confuses me, leading him to question whether other readers will also be puzzled, and possibly consider rethinking and reworking his opening paragraph.

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