Exigency: What Makes My Message Indispensable to My Reader
This essay defines the word exigency and explains its value as a way of gaining and holding a reader’s interest. Exigency is defined as not simply explaining why a topic matters generally, but why it should matter specifi- cally at this time and place and for one’s intended readership. Four differ- ent strategies for invoking exigency are given with specific examples from student writing, journalistic writing, and trade books to clarify each strate- gy. Special attention is given to remind students of their rhetorical context, the interests of their readership, their readers’ predispositions towards the subject matter and thesis (sympathetic, neutral, or antagonistic), and the possibility of connecting their thesis with larger issues, concerns, or values shared by the writer and his or her readers. The chapter closes with a dis- cussion of how rhetorical uses of exigency differ depending on the genre.