2010 Synthesis

Here are two examples of synthesis extracted from longer essays. Answer these questions about them:

  1. What phrases let readers know two sources are being synthesized? Quote three.
  2. What language would you not use when writing a synthesis given your audience? Why not?
  3. How well must the sources be understood to synthesized?
  4. Looking back at your annotated bibliography, what connections between sources did you describe? Can you develop those connections into a synthesis?

Then, try writing one. Begin by answering these questions:

  1. What do at least two of your sources have in common? Ideas? Facts? Example? Statistics?
  2. Are any people or works cited in more than one source?
  3. Does one source provide details, examples, or explanations that build on something said in another source?
  4. Does any source respond to something said or implied in another?
  5. What point from your proposal can you support through synthesis?
  6. What context might a synthesis you write provide?

Draft a synthesis for your proposal.

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Quick emergency rough drafts

Here are some steps toward a quick rough draft. Read all the steps first. Make a quick, tentative plan before you start.

Quick beginnings:

  • Start with an interesting bit of language
    1. Something you overheard eavesdropping or
    2. A phrase that is stuck in your head
  • Start with a character’s name and with that character doing something
  • Put something you like in the story
  • Put a thing or situation that makes you nervous in the story
  • Start with an accusation or an interdiction

Quick middles:

  • Make things
    1. Complicated for the main character
    2. Worse for the main character
  • Let the character think about
    1. Their actions
    2. The events of the story
    3. Another character
  • Show power shift as a result of a character’s action
  • Show power shift again as a result of an action
  • Show power shifting once more
  • Coincidences and dreams
    1. Can get characters into trouble
    2. But never out of it

Quick endings:

  • Show power shifting irrevocably
    1. Always with the main character as a primary witness
    2. As a result of the character’s action
  • Show at least one of the following
    1. A process begun earlier in the story is completed
    2. A restatement/return/echo of language from earlier in the story
    3. The main question or central tension in the story is resolved
  • Clearly show a change in the character or a reversal of roles
  • Resolve the question of “what’s going to happen” in a brief summary


Include many, many images.

Be willing to revise extensively and repeatedly.


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2250 Beginnings, middles, ends

Here are two examples for your consideration.

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Poems by Hass, Jones, Kooser, and Laux. Also, Russell, Levine, and Willard.

Enjoy. Also, see these for examples of images.

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Toward the annotated bibliography

Answer these questions:

  1. How clearly does my problem/solution connect all five of my sources? Why do I think at least three of these sources are scholarly? (Pages 459-460 provide help for determining if a source is scholarly.) How closely do my works cited page entries follow the appropriate examples in the textbook? (Discussion of the MLA style begins on 535; the APA begins on 591.) How much more research do I need to do?
  2. What can I do to summarize more effectively?
  3. How explicitly have I identified the thesis statements of the sources I am annotating? What are they? Can I list them? How can I make sure they are an obvious part of my annotation?
  4. How can I make my attributive tags persuasive? Do I know what kinds of sources I have and have I included them in my annotations?
  5. How do I plan to use each source? Have I made my plans for each source clear in its annotation?
  6. Which of my sources is the least credible? Which is the most? Why? How will I describe these limitations?
  7. How do my sources contrast with each other? What do they have in common?
  8. What separates my summary from my comments? What makes my switch from objective summary to evaluations, plans and connections obvious?
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3420 Sentences

In a small group, identify three sentences from the story that exemplify more than one technique.

  1. Quote the sentence.
  2. Answer the question “What two techniques does this single sentence use?” for each of the three sentences.
  3. Your answer should take the form of an assertion followed by the word “because” and an explanation.

For example, “She could hear Mister Lafkowitz talking—his words spun out in a silky, unintelligible hum.”

  1. This sentence characterizes Mister Lafkowitz because it describes his voice. Description is a common strategy for characterization
  2. This sentence creates an image because images are the results of the combination of sensory language and nouns: “words” are the noun here and “unintelligible hum” is an example of auditory sensory language.


Then, as an individual, draft three sentences of fiction that each use more than one strategy/technique.

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Only enjambment

Review pages 54 and 55 of Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook. Then, break the paragraph below into lines. Every line should be enjambed, with the exception of the last.

Mend the coat before you go out. Once we stood beside the shore. The chap slipped into the crowd and was lost. The rude laugh filled the empty room. Coax a young calf to drink from a bucket. Dill pickles are sour but taste fine. The third act was dull and tired the players. The pup jerked the leash as he saw a feline shape. A bowl of rice is free with chicken stew. The couch cover and hall drapes were blue. Sever the twine with a quick snip of the knife. These days a chicken leg is a rare dish. His wide grin earned many friends. The brown house was on fire to the attic. That guy is the writer of a few banned books. The horn of the car woke the sleeping cop. Her purse was full of useless trash. Kick the ball straight and follow through. The dark pot hung in the front closet. A shower of dirt fell from the hot pipes. Screw the round cap on as tight as needed. He lent his coat to the tall gaunt stranger. Her purse was full of useless trash. He carved a head from the round block of marble. Bottles hold four kinds of rum. Hoist the load to your left shoulder. The fruit peel was cut in thick slices. The fight will end in just six minutes. Cut the cord that binds the box tightly. Soap can wash most dirt away.

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