Visual Rewrite Advice

Draft Version of First Second

0:00-0:01 Ad opens on a porcelain tea-kettle in the shape of a cat’s head, mostly white but with blue on the outside of the head, brush strokes made to look like hair and small blue flowers on the spout and top of the kettle. The cat’s eyes have been given a more human look, seemingly looking up at its’s holder as if to say my contents are good. It has a small, round pink nose and thin pink lips. The cat is being held buy well manicured handsthe holder must have just left the nail salon. The background is distorted as to not distract us from the kettle cat. But you can make out a possible shelf with other small items. The overall image is bright and clean.

Revision Advice

[I’ve highlighted some grammar and punctuation problems, Username.]

That’s a beautiful description of an opening image, Username. I wonder now what you conclude from looking at it. The trick of the Visual Rhetoric is two-fold. 1) Describe the Visual; 2) Explain the Rhetoric.

That tea-kettle is SOMEBODY’S taste. Perhaps not yours or mine.

  • To admirers, it’s a find.
  • To the vast majority of viewers, it’s an object of amusement at best, scorn at worst.

We don’t want to judge the person who is lovingly handling it, but we do wonder what they could possibly find desirable about it. Does any of that cross your mind when you watch the first second?

SOMETHING crossed your mind. Whatever that SOMETHING is that presented itself to your consciousness IS THE RHETORICAL VALUE of the image.

  • Is this a thrift store item?
  • Is the admirer trying to save money on housewares?
  • Or is it an antique item that might be worth thousands of dollars (not more desirable per se, perhaps, but maybe a good investment).

Those newly-manicured nails.

  • Do they say: “I shop at thrift stores so I can afford expensive manicures”?
  • Or do they say: “I can afford both expensive manicures and costly antiques”?
  • Or do they say: “I do my own nails so I can afford to shop wherever I want”?

The odds are pretty good this is not an ad for kitty-kettles, so there’s something other than a commercial message being delivered in this first second.

The director did EVERYTHING for a reason. Why did she make these first-second choices?

Please comment below if you now understand the two components of the Visual Rhetoric Task.

  1. Visual
  2. Rhetoric

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Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels.

15 thoughts on “Visual Rewrite Advice”

  1. Yes, I have a better understanding now that a Visual Rhetoric serves two purposes: Describing the image, and describing why we are seeing the image, what we are feeling, whats the directors objective, Why did they choose THAT image.


  2. I believe I have a better understanding with visual rhetoric as it allows a viewer to better understand an image, especially in terms of critical thinking and problem solving.


  3. This discussion helped me better understand the visual rhetoric assignment. I never realized that it served two purposes; one explaining the picture and the second, describing our thoughts, feelings and why that picture is being shown.


  4. -thank you very much. this example of the visual rhetoric helped me a lot. and now i have a better understanding of the ‘Visual Rhetoric.’


  5. I have a clearer view of the purpose of the visual rhetoric assignment, to not only describe the image but also the implications of why they were included and the emotions they evoke.


  6. Yes, I do have a better understanding of the two. It is important to describe what you are seeing and then explain WHY you are seeing it. For example, my visual rhetoric focused on two girls having a social dilemma in a basement; but not just any basement, I went on to describe it must be the girls parent’s home/basement based on the vintage furniture and decor. It is important to try to crack the code of why everything is in what you are seeing, because there is a reason for it!


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