Task #5: Yank

Yank

“Yank” falls under the Analysis Acronym (Revision) category.

Yank irrelevant and relevant supporting evidence. There are two types of supporting evidence that require yanking.

  • Irrelevant Supporting Evidence: These are statements and quotes that do not match the ideas expressed within the paragraph or topic sentence or the thesis. This is the type of information that has no relevance at all.
  • Relevant Supporting Evidence: These are statements and quotes that do match the ideas expressed within the paragraph or topic sentence or the thesis. This is the type of information that has relevance, but is unnecessary. The rest of the paragraph or the ideas can function sufficiently well without it, but the information doesn’t hinder learning.

Yanking is revision on a higher scale. Yanking is extreme. With revision, you hope to keep parts; and sometimes you keep parts even if they are not working well within a paragraph. However, with yanking, you can look at a sentence and reason that it shouldn’t be there or you can look at a sentence and reason that although the statement is helpful, it is unnecessary to the rest of the ideas in the paragraph.

In other words, the reader will not die if he or she doesn’t know this piece of information. You can lose a reader when a paragraph is flooded with conflicting information, distracting summaries or quotes that don’t support a topic sentence, analyses that deviate from the path of the thesis, or other information that serves no real purpose.

Let’s bring in some examples to illustrate this process. The first example, from the student essay on “Chrysanthemums,” should be familiar to you.

Figure 84: Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums” (Yanking Supporting Evidence Exercise) 

Elisa continues to glance down at the tractor shed where the men where.  There is an anxiousness in Elisa.  Her “face was eager . . . mature . . . handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.  The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy” (Steinbeck 221).  Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden.  She takes off her glove and places her hands down into the soil.  She recognizes that her flowers hadn’t completely bloomed.  She starts tending her garden at the sound of her husband’s voice.  “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221).  It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa.  It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders.  Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers.  No one could get close or converse with Elisa.  At the sound of his voice is when she can start.  Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity.  Henry never included her in any of his business.  She was best seen and not heard.

Previous Determinations Associated with This Paragraph

Topic Sentence: We determined in an earlier process that the topic sentence for this paragraph was the following: Steinbeck paints a clear picture as to how religiously Elisa tends her garden.

Quote: Throughout the process, we determined that the following quote supported a statement directly before it: “He had come near quietly, and he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs, and chickens” (Steinbeck 221).

Supporting Evidence: We also determined that the following sentences had to be completely removed, or abbreviated.

  • Sentence #1: It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa.
  • Sentence #2: Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers. 
  • Sentence #3: No one could get close or converse with Elisa.
  • Sentence #4: Everything had become so traditional that she had become accustomed to waiting until he finished his business to start her daily activity.
  • Sentence #5: She was best seen and not heard.

Topic Sentence Setup: Last, we determined that everything before the topic sentence could easily be removed.

What we did above is not yanking. These previous exercises represent the revision process. This is copyediting at its best. On the other hand, yanking requires courage. First, to determine if supporting evidence is irrelevant or relevant, we must use the thesis as a tool, as an instrument to measure ideas expressed within the body paragraphs.

Second, even if the thesis is weak and contradictory, most of what we write and read in the body paragraphs must still have some connection to the thesis. Therefore, let’s bring forward the thesis and the first body paragraph of the essay to determine if we need to yank the body paragraph.

Table 23: Thesis-Body Paragraph Comparisons (Yanking Theses Exercise)

 Thesis 1 She is presented as weak in that her daily activity consisted of tending her garden of chrysanthemums; Steinbeck focuses on how they provide insight into Elisa and how she relates to them, religiously. 2 He implies that even though she fits a weak character, there are places in the narrative at the beginning that suggest some strong points and her longing towards the end. 3 There are a number of inferences that Steinbeck clearly illustrates how she is presented as weak and should therefore be discussed.
 1st Body Paragraph The narrative starts out with Elisa working in her flower garden. She looks down across the yard and sees Henry, her husband, talking to two businessmen; they are making a proposition to Henry for his thirty heads of three-year old steers. Elisa takes several glances at the men as they smoke cigarettes and talk; her “face was lean and strong and her eyes were as clear as water . . . her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man’s black hat pulled down over her eyes, clod-hopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron with four big pockets . . .” (Steinbeck 220). Steinbeck clearly shows Elisa’s habitual activity; it is implied that she even wears the exact same thing everyday.

Let’s examine the step-by-step process.

Step #1: Mirror. Mirror the thesis against each body paragraph, one-by-one.

Step #2: Highlight. Highlight parts of the thesis with a highlighter (hardcopy) or apply underlining (within a Word document).

Step #3: Number. Number the parts of the thesis. Number the parts of the body paragraph that correspond to the parts of the thesis.

Step #4: Yank. You have three options.

  • Option #1:  If you do not have any numbered parts in the body paragraph that correspond to the thesis parts, then you must yank the whole paragraph. The paragraph is dead weight. Dead weight usually represents plot summary.
  • Option #2: For those parts that are numbered in the body paragraph that correspond to the thesis parts, keep them. Yank the rest of the paragraph sentences.
  • Option #3: If there are parts in the body paragraph that are not numbered, but appear to be viable if revised, revise these parts so that they are congruent with the thesis parts. If you still cannot make these parts function in the way that the thesis dictates, yank them.

Click here for “Task #6: Sample.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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