Writing the Argumentative/Persuasive Essay
CHOOSING A TOPIC To begin an argumentative/persuasive essay, you must first have an opinion you want others to share.
Possible Topic Ideas Should legal immigration be stopped?
Should dying people be kept on life support? Should tobacco products be banned? Should the Internet be censored? Should school prayer be allowed? Should music lyrics be censored? Should parents of teen vandals be held responsible for their child's damage? Should research on cloning be discontinued? Should a rookie salary cap be enforced in pro sports? Should boxing be banned? Should the driving age be raised to 18? Should semi-automatic weapons be banned? Should teens who murder be executed? Should hunting be outlawed? Should recycling be mandatory? Should schools require student uniforms? Should college athletes be paid? Should the death penalty be abolished?
RESEARCH To be valid, an opinion or point of view must be supported by facts and information. Once you know what you will write about, you will need to do research on the topic. Research through interviewing people, or reading newspaper, book, journal or Internet articles.
THESIS STATEMENT The thesis statement
states your position on the topic sets up the structure for the paper.
SUPPORT THE THESIS Support your thesis with three reasons.
Write down each of the three main reasons that support your belief on a separate piece of paper. These are your arguments.
COUNTER-ARGUMENTS Every controversial issue has two sides.
Once you can support your position with research, you need to explore what others think.
PREPARING YOUR ARGUMENTS
Look at the three main reasons for your opinion. What objections would others have to each of your reasons? Write these down under each of your reasons. Now you have three arguments and three counter-arguments.
ANSWERING COUNTER- ARGUMENTS
Write your answers down under the counter-arguments. Now you have the raw material for each paragraph of the argumentative essay.
THE AUDIENCE When introducing the topic, think about the audience first. How much does the audience know about the topic? Is the audience likely to be friendly or hostile to your position? How can you “hook” the audience’s attention?
The first sentence is a general statement, designed to attract the reader’s attention. Second and perhaps third sentences narrow the idea down to your specific idea. The last sentence in the introduction must be your thesis.
General statement (hook)
INTRODUCTION Think of the introduction as having a funnel shape: General statement (hook) Specific information Thesis
Example of Intro Paragraph
More people die on driving on Greek roads in a single year than all the U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since the fighting began. The road conditions and the mentality that leads to this unnecessary and avoidable loss of life should be changed. Fact to support position and a good hook. The authors position or Thesis Statement.
BUILDING BODY PARAGRAPHS
The first topic sentence of the first paragraph will be the first reason that supports your position. You may even wish to begin the sentence with the word first to focus the reader’s attention on its importance.
FIRST BODY PARAGRAPH Write a topic sentence and three details that support the reason you believe what you believe. Repeat the process until you have three paragraphs with three different reasons and three details to support that reason.
Counter Arguments - Rebuttals
Research what people opposed to your point of view believe. Write down three counter- arguments to your position. Now, address those arguments in a paragraph explaining why your position is a better one.
BUILDING PARAGRAPHS The final sentence in each paragraph should sum up and make a transition to the main idea of the next paragraph.
Concluding Paragraph Indicate in the conclusion that you have shown the thesis statement to be true. Has a powerful ending often relating to the introduction. Do not include any new information in a conclusion. If you have not mentioned something yet in the paper, it is now too late.
What is not effective Saying the opposing viewpoint is “stupid.”
Good essays are clear, calm and factual. Prove it instead. Saying negative things about groups or individuals that have different view points. This does not support your position but makes you seem petty instead.
How many is that? Intro Paragraph Body Paragraph 1 Body Paragraph 2
Rebuttal Paragraph – other viewpoints Conclusion Paragraph
Reflecting on Your Paper
Are you happy with what you have written? Have you made a convincing case for your position? Is it clear that research supports your position? Have you shown that you understand the objections to your position?
Reflecting on Your Paper
Have you shown that you understand the objections to your position? Is it clear that your position still outweighs the possible objections?
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