Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Discursive – Wordplay Wednesday™ 08/08/18

Skipping is Fun … Except in Essays 

We all know there is a vicious struggle going on between millennials and boomers, and everyone in-between, regarding grammar (and a number of other topics).

Boomers were taught “by the rules,” millennials were taught but decided most of the rules are rubbish, and then there are those in-betweeners. Like in fashion, it appears these days, anything goes

DISCURSIVE (di skurʹsiv) adj. – 1) wandering from one topic to another; skimming over many apparently unconnected subjects, rambling, desultory, digressive; 2) based on the conscious use of reasoning rather than on intuition. [WW #176]

How can something be curvy and straight at the same time? When it’s discursive, of course. Dissecting the word, we find dis—to cause to be the opposite of—and cursive—flowing, not disconnected. Does that lead us to a straight line? It can, in an essay.

In my staid English, journalism, speech, and creative writing education, oh, so many years ago, we were discouraged from—often reprimanded for—writinge ssays in a rambling, disconnected manner.

Yet, we can now find tips and suggestions all over the ‘Net for writing a “good” discursive essay! In my day, as the saying goes, that’s an oxymoron.

“The main idea of writing discursive essays,” say the folks at, “is to set some arguments.” Like we need more reasons and ways to debate in this world!

Although it follows the standard essay structure, discursive wanders around four to six argumentative points, rather than focusing on two or three. I maintain that most people who write them can’t sustain a proper flow for that many points. As for the reader … how confused are thee?!

BUT: at least makes the oxymoronic definition amusing: “If people accuse you of rambling from topic to topic in your speech or writing, they may say you have a discursive style — with changes in subject that are hard to follow. But it's okay because unicorns are shiny.” (Seriously, I did not add the unicorn bit—though it is my style.)

Doesn’t that rather follow the problem we have in today’s scatter-brain world? No subject holds our attention for more than a few seconds—and now we’re expected to create worthy essays that support discursive thinking?

There was a reason that for millennia, essays adhered to basic rules of writing. For well-rounded and thought-provoking consideration, one, two, or maximum of three divergent hypotheses were explored, before presenting an informed conclusion.

Our brains need time, room to expand properly on a thought or theory, and open flow, to form opinions that a discursive essay confounds.

Word Challenge: DISCURSIVE. Focus on your primary literary goal with each paper, essay, or commentary you write, as you fit discursive into your week of coherent and polished writings.

Learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t fattening! Expanding your mind is a no-cost simple joy. Do you feel that way too? What’s your inspiration? Share your creative genius and Wordplay Wednesday comments below.

Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle) 


LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!


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