How to Write Rhetorical Statements

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A rhetorical statement is actually a rhetorical question that plays the role of a statement in that it is not meant to be answered. A rhetorical question is a figure of speech -- a tool used in writing to emphasize a point or to present a challenge. An effective rhetorical question will serve as a call to action. It will challenge your readers to think for themselves. This type of question is frequently used by writers as part of their stylistic approach, but is considered off limits in many forms of essay writing. Learn how you can write effective rhetorical questions.

1 Write a rhetorical question in context

Write a rhetorical question in context. Don't write a paragraph detailing how to buy a new car, then follow it with a rhetorical question such as, "Isn't it a bummer being poor?" This question has nothing to do with the previous paragraph. The author is offering the promise of an article that will help you buy a new car, then following it with a rhetorical question that sets the audience up for a letdown. Unless this is the intention of the author, this use of the rhetorical question would be out of line.

2 Use a rhetorical question

Use a rhetorical question as a lead-in from an introduction to the body of an essay or article. An introduction describing tropical vacations in the sun, fine wine and dining, and dancing all night could be followed with a question like, "Wouldn't it be nice to live the high life?" No answer required. The author already knows the answer the intended audience will give. Lead into the body of the article with, "Well, now you can," then proceed to tell your readers how to live the high life. This is an effective use of the rhetorical question.

3 Always answer your rhetorical questions

Always answer your rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question isn't meant to be answered by the audience, but it should be answered by the writer who states it. While rhetorical questions aren't meant to be answered, they are used to engage the audience's attention. Once you have that attention, you should follow it up with relevant material that not only answers the rhetorical question, directly or indirectly, but which expands on it. The rhetorical question is often the introduction to a larger topic.

4 Don't overuse the rhetorical question

Don't overuse the rhetorical question. It is a strong, effective device if used sparingly. Too many rhetorical questions can give readers the impression your're confused. Overuse of this device can also leave readers feeling overwhelmed and as if they are leaving your article with more questions than answers. When you ask a rhetorical question, you want to leave your readers room to digest the information with which you follow the question.

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.