10) "But Don't Get Me Wrong": The Art of Metacommentary --129

Metacommentary = commentary over/about the commentary.

This means commenting on, or explaining, what you have already written.

But, you may ask, can't the reader understand what I just wrote? Doesn't writing speak for itself?

Not exactly. You are explaining to your reader the thought process--how to interpret what you just wrote, and how it relates to your point.

Metacommentary is a way of commenting on your claims and telling others how and how not to think about them.

Metacommentary is like a second text which stands next to your text and explains what it means.

The authors suggest you think of your text as two, joined at the hip:

  1. a main text in which you make your argument
  2. another text in which you discuss, comment on, and explain your argument--how the pieces join up and support, explaining what might be controversial, bringing up objections and countering them, and so forth.

By doing this, your writing isn't just a shopping list of statements with some research backing it up. It becomes a discussion.

USE METACOMMENTARY TO CLARIFY AND ELABORATE

Metacommentary is where you anticipate readers' problems and difficulties with your ideas and how they fit together.

You use it to explain what you really mean, and what each part of your argument is intended to do (and how it does that).

Metacommentary also helps you develop your ideas and generate more text (!)

If you're struggling with paper length (always too short!) remember the two things which will increase your page count in a good way:

  1. introducing the Naysayers, and answering their objections
  2. good metacommentary, where you explain your own thinking and how it works

A good paper is more than just, "Here's my thesis in my introduction. Here's my reasons and evidence, and now I've got a conclusion."

Metacommentary helps you extract the full potential from your writing--it's a form of self-analysis.

TITLES AS METACOMMENTARY

A good title will tell more than just the subject of the essay.

It also predicts how you will treat the subject. A good subtitle will elaborate or explain the main title:

USING OTHER MOVES AS METACOMMENTARY

Entertaining objections, adding transitions, framing quotations, answering "so what" and "who cares"--

All these are ways to stand outside of your text and look deliberately at it, explaining what you're building in your writing, and how it fits together.

TEMPLATES FOR INTRODUCING METACOMMENTARY:

TO WARD OFF POTENTIAL MISUNDERSTANDINGS

TO ALERT READERS TO AN ELABORATION OF AN EARLIER IDEA

TO PROVIDE READERS WITH A ROADMAP TO YOUR TEXT

TO MOVE FROM A GENERAL CLAIM TO A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE

TO INDICATE THAT A CLAIM IS MORE, LESS OR EQUALLY IMPORTANT

TO EXPLAIN A CLAIM WHEN YOU ANTICIPATE OBJECTIONS

 

 

 

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