I was watching a movie tonight, Back to School (aptly titled movie for the Southern Hemisphere), starring Rodney Dangerfield and it got me thinking. In the movie Dangerfield’s character turns out to be quite the diver (think Olympic not deep sea) despite his advancing age and waistline. For those scenes it was quite obvious a stunt double was used.
What does this have to do with essays?
Well think of the actor as the writer and the essay as his character. The actor is the face of the character and it’s his voice that speaks – just as the writer’s name is on the essay and it’s written in his style, with his words.
A good movie always has a bit of action and I’m not talking about the stuff in the bedroom. The action usually consists of some pretty cool stunts and for this a stunt double is quite commonly used. They are dressed the same, and the scenes are shot in such a way that it looks like it is still the same actor.
In an essay the stunt double is the sources and authority figures you have referenced. You integrate their quotes and paraphrase their papers so it looks like one cohesive essay.
While it might be made to look like there is just one person playing the character in a movie, the stuntmen are credited for their role at the end of the movie. The same goes for your essays – reference all your sources correctly. Paraphrasing doesn’t make it your own work!
But why bother with a stunt double? Why can’t the actor do it?
In some cases they can and do; however, the two reasons they usually don’t are:
1. They physically can’t aka Mr. Dangerfield
2. It is not worth the risk of them injuring themselves
In your essay you do research and use credible sources because you can’t provide the evidence yourself. You don’t have enough experience, and haven’t carried out your own studies or experiments in your essay topic’s field. Basically, you’re a student and not qualified. Even if you are, it is very risky to base an essay wholly on your own thoughts and findings. Use the experts for the evidence.
Overall, you’re the actor (writer) and your essay is your character – it communicates to your audience. Write your essay with your unique voice, integrate evidence from credible sources, and create a powerful argument.
Keep this in mind when you are writing your essays this year and good luck!
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