Okanagan Panorama

Rant Makes Right ... or Does It? Writing Resonating Rants That Rock!

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Ranting Makes Right ... or Does it? Writing Resonating Rants that Rock! by Rae StonehouseI read an article the other day, doesn’t really matter which one, that really grabbed my attention and engaged me. 

As I continued to read, the realization came to me that this wasn’t the self-help or informative style of article that I usually sought out. Oh no … it was a rant! A rant, thinly disguised as expert advice.  

I enjoy a good rant. Rick Mercer, of CBC’s the Mercer Report, is turning ranting into an art. His rants are fast paced, always have a recognizable target and are easy to follow. Even if you haven’t heard of the facts or evidence that he backs his argument up with, it leaves you wondering about what he has said and eager to find out more on your own.

The author of the article broke the rules of ranting, saying that anyone that disagreed with his ‘facts’ was stupid, making it personal to me. That got me thinking about rants in general. Are there any rules when writing or orally delivering a rant? Does the end justify the means? Is this another ‘might vs right’ scenario? Does good taste come into play when delivering a rant, or is it a ‘no holds barred, anything goes’ type of scenario?

Since rants seem to becoming more common, I thought it might be interesting to research best practices on how to rant with the best of them.

Vocabulary.com describes rant as follows:  A rant is an argument that is fuelled by passion, not shaped by facts. When the shouting starts on talk radio, or when a blog commenter resorts to ALL CAPS — you're almost certainly encountering an instance of ranting.

As for actual definitions, they provide the following: talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner; a loud bombastic declamation expressed with strong emotion and/or pompous or pretentious talk or writing.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not getting the warm fuzzies from those definitions. Let us bring the term ‘raving’ into the discussion. Once again, Vocabulary.com defines raving as: talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner [that sounds familiar!] and/or praise enthusiastically.

So if I understand ‘ranting and raving’ … ranting is when you go off on a tear about a subject, and raving is when I speak enthusiastically about a subject. I guess determining whether one is ranting or raving is in the eye of the beholder!

Vocabulary.com goes on to say … Rant comes from the Dutch ranten, “to talk nonsense.” Rave is a close synonym — in fact, “to rant and rave” is a popular expression. When rant is used as a noun, it means something like tirade. The first recorded usage of rant is from the end of the sixteenth century, in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. By the middle of the turbulent seventeenth century, the name Ranters was used as a catchall pejorative for various groups of radical Christian dissenters.

The best place to start to create your award-winning rant is with a subject that fires you up. Perhaps you read an article on Linkedin as I did or a newspaper article or a piece on your local television news that gets your creative juices flowing. If you seem to be spending a lot of your time thinking about the specific topic, sharing and discussing your beliefs with others and possibly even losing sleep over it, odds are you have the meat for a good rant. You just need to have the potatoes to go with it. Are you knowledgeable on the subject? Do you have a special insight that the original person doesn’t seem to have? If so, then you are probably ready to move forward.

Rae’s Recipe for Ranting:

Part One:

1.      Write out your objections: As a preliminary step, I would suggest writing out a focussed response to each item that you are objecting to. Sometimes a subject can be so complicated that it can be overwhelming when you try to look at the whole thing at one time. The old adage of “how do you eat an elephant?” comes to mind. If this the first time you have an encountered that thought-provoking question … the answer is … “one bite at a time!” Maybe not all that thought-provoking but it is something to think about never-the-less. Provide specific examples to support your argument or undermine your opponent’s.

2.      Gather your own facts: Your responses should be backed up with our own facts that support your argument and dispute the other’s. You may want to do some research i.e. fact checking, just to make sure that you are correct. Even one erroneous fact on your part can erode your credibility or the edge you have over your opponent. Yes, I meant opponent. A rant isn’t a time for fluffy praise of your opponent’s views and opinions, its time for you to rip them to shreds, show no mercy …  Perhaps its time for a reality check … am I ranting or raving about the subject of ranting?

I recall a story that I believe took place in Prince George B.C. a few years back, where a local politician stated that “things were so tense that they were burning crosses in the front yards of the houses.” There was no truth to her so-called fact. Not only did it affect her credibility, it opened her to ridicule and I believe that her comments were lampooned on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Royal Canadian Air Farce. Rants can sometimes go sideways on you if you aren’t careful.  

3.      Develop a strong opening: A strong start is likely the way to go. As in delivering any speech or writing a story, you want to grab your audience’s attention as quickly as you can. Wake em up … shake em up! Leading with your strongest objection sets the path for acceptance of everything that you follow with. It sets your credibility as someone worth listening to. A series of strong objections, backed by your selected facts and an appeal to the audience’s emotion is a good plan of attack. Rhetorical questions can be used to get your audience thinking about your facts and taking it to another level, a level where they can’t help but agree with your argument.

4.      Find the weak spots in your opponent’s argument: When you rant, you want to direct your rant exactly where it will hurt the opposition. Don’t shy away from contradictions, fallacies, and other failures of logic that you find in the subject you want to rant against.

Part Two: Nailing the Tone (derived from Wikihow)

1.      Use specific examples. Bad rants will list the same idea fifty times and won’t prove a thing. You can tell us in a strongly worded way why something is stupid, or you can start showing us how and why it’s so terrible.

    • Every time you make a claim in your rant, get in the habit of asking yourself, “So what?” Then answer that question.

    • Highlight contradictions or logical fallacies. The best way to rant is to skewer the topic at hand by pointing out all the ways in which it’s completely wrong, ridiculous, or terrible. Connect the dots for us.

2.      Use powerful adjectives. Bad rants will tell us that something is “really, really, really stupid” but not tell us why. And good rants will tell us something more specific and accurate. It’s important to bolster your ranting with specific examples. You can only tell us something is bad so much without bothering to prove it to us. Deliver us quotes, specific examples, and discuss the subject in as much detail as possible.

3.      Use sarcasm to your advantage. Sarcasm is the ranter’s playground. Make good use of verbal eye-rolls by ramping up the sarcasm and embarrassing the opposition. Your target will be sorry it ever raised your ire if you launch sarcasm bombs at them.

4.      Use irony and satire to your advantage. One great way of ranting against something and thoroughly skewering it in words is to mock it more subtly. If you can do an impression of your target and mock the style, you’ll be a ranting pro.

5.      Embrace the big picture. Good rants make mountains out of molehills. Connect the small thing you’re noticing and feel the need to rail against to a larger social, cultural, or political issue. If it bugs you when your friend checks Facebook every five seconds while you’re trying to have lunch, what could this tell us about interpersonal relationships in the digital age? What's the end result of all this Facebooking? Where are we headed as a culture of heads-down phone-watchers?

6.      There's a fine line between an effective rant and a big exaggeration. You want to get as close as possible to it without going over. Saying that Facebook ruins dates and makes it more difficult to relate to one another, not easier, is right within the constraints of a good rant. Saying that Facebook is probably responsible for Ebola? That's a stretch.

Part 3: Avoiding Common Mistakes

  1. Don’t make it personal. Argue about the content, not the individual who created the content. Despite what Part 2, derived from WikiHow above, eludes to, the goal is not to destroy your opponent, only to win the argument. Keeping in mind that it very well may be a one-way argument as the other person may never know that you are even disagreeing with them unless you bring them into the disagreement. Avoid the temptation to attack the character. Caution is advised in that some people have a brittle ego and do not have the ability to accept contrary views to their own. There is the possibility that they may lash out at you with an actual physical or on-line cyber attack. As one who has worn the mantle of ‘devil’s advocate’ many times I have seen some nasty responses to people who haven’t liked their world view challenged.  
  2. Address the issue from an intelligent point of view. You’ll be on a fast-track to embarrassing yourself if you go out and start ranting about an issue you know nothing about. Get smart before you start making noise.

·         Again, it can’t be stressed enough, if you’re not informed about a particular issue, we don’t need your opinion about it. Keep it to yourself. The old saying of “better to keep your mouth closed and let them think you to be stupid is better than opening it and proving the point” comes to mind.

  1. 3.      Avoid logical fallacies. Your rant has to make sense, even if it’s running on its passion. Be familiar with the basics of creating an argument and sustain it with good points and logic, or your rant will fall apart. Every argument should include:

·         A clear thesis

·         Supporting evidence

·         Good examples

·         Warrants and backing logic

·         A summary or conclusion

 

Closing Thoughts: We are bombarded daily with media sound bytes, diatribes from people with access to the media and force fed “official” propaganda from our elected officials. Crafting  and delivering a rant in response to a cause that irritates you may not change the world around you but it might just change one person’s opinion. Then another and another … That’s how social movements develop. Go ahead … rave when you are passionate about a subject that you strongly believe in and rant when you strongly disagree with someone else’s opinions. I look forward to hearing your rants … or maybe not!

 

Rae Stonehouse

Author Bio:

Rae A. Stonehouse is a Canadian born author & speaker. His professional career as a Registered Nurse working predominantly in psychiatry/mental health, has spanned four decades.

Rae has embraced the principal of CANI (Constant and Never-ending Improvement) as promoted by thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and brings that philosophy to each of his publications and presentations.

Rae has dedicated the latter segment of his journey through life to overcoming his personal inhibitions. As a 20+ year member of Toastmasters International he has systematically built his self-confidence and communicating ability. He is passionate about sharing his lessons with his readers and listeners. His publications thus far are of the self-help, self-improvement genre and systematically offer valuable sage advice on a specific topic.

His writing style can be described as being conversational. As an author Rae strives to have a one-to-one conversation with each of his readers, very much like having your own personal self-development coach. Rae is known for having a wry sense of humour that features in his publications.

 

Author of Self-Help Downloadable E-Books:

Power Networking for Shy PeoplePower Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly!

PROtect Yourself!PROtect Yourself! Empowering Tips & Techniques for Personal Safety: A Practical Violence Prevention Manual for Healthcare Workers.

E=Emcee SquaredE=Emcee SquaredTips & Techniques to Becoming a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies.

Power of PromotionPower of Promotion: On-line Marketing for Toastmasters Club Growth

 

Phone Rae 250-451-6564 or info@raestonehouse.com

Rae’s social … are you?

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RaeStonehousehttp://twitter.com/RaeStonehouse

Linkedin? Rae is http://www.linkedin.com/in/raestonehousehttp://www.linkedin.com/in/raestonehouse

Copyright 2015 Rae Stonehouse. The above document may be freely copied and distributed as long as the author’s name and contact info remain attached.

 

To learn more about Rae A. Stonehouse, visit the Wonderful World of Rae Stonehouse at http://raestonehouse.com.