Exigency- What it is and How to Use it

Within Quentin Vieregge’s article Exigency: What Makes My Message Indispensable to My Reader the term and usage of exigency is explained  as “not simply explaining why a topic matters generally, but why it should matter specifically at this time and place and for one’s intended readership.” Many writers initially assume that readers will have as much interest in the text’s subject matter as they do. However, the unfortunate truth is no matter how much work, research, and time you spend writing a piece of text, readers will only read it if they believe it is worth their time. This means it is up to the writer to clarify a text’s relevance, which connects to the concept of exigency. Exigency is defined as “the circumstances and reasons why something matters- not only generally, but specifically.” 

One way to invoke exigency in your writing is through the audience’s agenda or concerns. This can be achieved by first determining why you’re writing. One way to do this creating a persona, which is “a mask you can take on and off as a writer.” These different personas, or masks, can help you to form an opinion about why your paper would be important. Creating your persona as a writer is also beneficial in how to relate to your readers and grab hold of their attention. The article states that “to capture your reader’s attention, you should surround your thesis sentence with exigency circumstances that explain why this is an issue that matters… especially for your reader.” This is so for when you introduce our topic, you can meet the reader at their level from their mindset. 

Another way to capture exigency is through a gap in the research, a strategy that “involves finding something new to say that contributes to an ongoing discussion.” After discovering there is a gap in the research, a writer must prove that there is something new to discuss that is original yet connects to what has already been written by others. Using this concept as a means to capture exigency simultaneously provides writers with a purpose for writing and readers with an answer to “so what.” 

Although there are multiple ways to showcase exigency within this article, the last concept I am going to discuss is exigency through reframing the subject matter. This concept show that there are times when the best way to illustrate a topic’s importance is to redefine what the issue is about. Reframing the issue shifts the readers understanding of the surrounding context of an issue, which can also be described as “a matter of what ideas, words, memories, or beliefs we associate an issue with.” Within this concept, the article provides three different lessons about exigency that are helpful in both understanding what exigency is and how to incorporate it in a text. 

  1. “Sometimes it’s best to invoke exigency in the middle of the text or even in the conclusion.
  2. Consider delaying invoking exigency when 
    1. your reader doesn’t share your underlying assumptions 
    2. when your reader is unaware of the ongoing academic discussions 
    3. when it’s more important to leave your readers with a lasting impression than it is to grab their attention immediately 
    4. When your thesis is placed in the middle or the end of your paper 
  3. Whether reframing an issue or finding a gap in the research, exigency often involves connecting one’s thesis with the audience’s values. Reframing an issue involves the additional step of suggesting that readers focus on a different set of values than they otherwise would.”