It is your responsibility as an educated person to express your views. At times this will be in writing. Unlike informative writing that is objective, in an argumentative paper you must use factual information to support your position on an issue. Your focus is subjective, your views.
How can you convince others of your argument through writing? Above all, you must make your view clear. You not only need to make your position clear but also you must give any important background. Also, your position must have solid, specific evidence.
I would prefer that you use the following guidelines for organizing your paper:
In the opening paragraph, begin with a sentence that arouses the readers’ interest. Provide a “hook” into the paper? For example, “Crime is increasing in Spokane.” Boring! But, “The chance of being murdered in Spokane this year is twenty times higher than it was five years ago” is much better. Next, set out the context within which the problem occurs. Don’t begin papers too far back in time; try to begin your introduction at an appropriately close time to the problem. Make sure the reader understands the five “W”s: who, what, when, where, why (or how). End you introduction with your thesis.
The next section of the paper should address arguments which are in opposition to yours. In this section, you acknowledge the opposition and then dispose of it. You either need to show how the opposition is wrong, or even if they are correct on a point, how it does not damage your argument. Be sure here to state the opposition’s strongest points, not their weakest. If you only refute their weakest points, you will be guilty of what rhetoricians call a “Straw Man” fallacy.
After refuting the opposition, the easiest organization for your paper is to arrange your paper according to reasons, why you believe your arguable thesis to be true.
Once you have gathered your information and before writing your paper, ask yourself the following questions. If you spend some time with these ideas, you will find your paper much easier to write.
Who is the audience for your essay? It might be voters, a club group, those who are pro capital punishment. Give four outstanding characteristics of the audience or write a character sketch. Include personality traits and likes and dislikes. By doing this it will help you set the tone of your paper and recognize opposing positions.
What is the specific purpose of your essay? You are not expected to persuade all your readers, but you may nevertheless hope to have an effect on some of them. Readers who already agree with you may be moved to action. Readers who have previously made up their minds to disagree may be brought to acknowledge that there are at least possible alternate positions. Readers who have no position on the issue may be led to study the question, to agree or even to respond in a more positive fashion.
What is your persona and tone of voice? Why did you choose it? Avoid being “preachy” or “superior.” Try to address your audience as peers.
List the facts and opinions you plan to use to convince the audience. Sequence the facts and opinions from less compelling to most compelling. What is the “kicker”?
Organizing and Revising the Draft
Argument structured by division of reasons :
One of the most persuasive ways to organize an argument is around a division of reasons. This structure is particularly helpful in these ways.
It provides a simple and accessible method for planning the overall order in which to present your evidence. Listing your major reasons in support of your argument will provide a clear basis for dividing your topic into parts so that you can determine a paragraph structure for your paper.
A division of reasons will help to give you confidence in your material so that you can maintain an objective attitude, relying on facts rather than emotive language to convince your reader. Such a division naturally helps you move from the abstract concepts ordinarily involved in argumentative topics to concrete examples and illustrations.
The breakdown of the topic into such a division obviously provides a ready framework for a paper, since each of these reasons should be explored in a separate section of the body. In addition, because you in effect will be developing separate arguments, each of which may be directly substantiated by evidence, it will be easier to argue objectively. Furthermore, the evidence will necessarily include specific information that will make your argument concrete rather than abstract.
After writing your paper, check it for the 4 C’s: clarity, coherence, concreteness, and correctness.
Clarity: First, consider clarity in terms of the organization of your entire paper. Is the main idea clearly stated? Is it developed in a logical, orderly manner? Does it lead to a logical conclusion? Does each part of the paper do what it is supposed to do? After considering the overall organization of the paper, look for clarity within paragraphs. Is each paragraph developed clearly? Does each paragraph have a one main idea? Does each main idea have adequate supporting sentences?
Coherence: Coherence means that each idea is clearly related to the one preceding it and to the one following it. If the paragraphs are connected logically, ideas will flow smoothly through the paper.
Your paper probably lacks coherence if you must ask, “How does this idea fit in?” The idea may be irrelevant to the subject, or it may be out of place. Perhaps the idea simply needs a connecting word or phrase, such as therefore or on the other hand, to link it to another idea. Check the beginnings and ends of your paragraphs for the signals or transitional words and phrases that aid coherence.
Concreteness: In explaining an idea, try to show, not tell. That is, use facts, examples, sensory details, and other specific details to enable your readers to understand your explanation. Is your thesis statement represented by enough concrete detail so that it can be clearly understood? Have you supported it in succeeding paragraphs with specific statements that show who, what, where, when, why and how? Also examine individual words for concreteness. Have you used words precisely? Do you need to check any meanings in a dictionary? Have you searched for words that are specific rather than general? Do the words say what you mean to say?
Correctness: In the hurry of putting ideas on paper for your first draft, you may have made some mechanical errors. Find them and correct them. Use a spell checker, but be aware that the spell checker will NOT catch all spelling errors. Check your punctuation