Intro: How to Form a Written Argument
Almost everyone has a strong opinion on some issue or another, and, similarly, almost everyone wants his or her opinion to be taken seriously. As such, it is important to be able to articulate one's thoughts clearly and directly. One of the most effective ways of conveying your opinions is through writing. The following set of instructions details one process for creating a convincing argument.
The time required will vary based on your specific topic and how in-depth you want your argument to be, but a solidly constructed argument should take several hours to formulate.
You will need something with which to take notes. The best note-taking materials are a pen or pencil and paper, but you can also use a tablet, laptop, or another electronic device.
Step 1: Step One: Articulate Your Position
The first step in creating a convincing argument is to decide exactly what you're trying to convince your reader to believe. State your position clearly and specifically.
Step 2: Step Two: Brainstorm and Research Supporting and Opposing Claims
Make a list (possibly in the form of a T-chart) of the reasons you support this stance and, just as importantly, why someone else might oppose it. This is a good way to organize your thoughts and findings from research.
A T-chart to be particularly helpful because it allows you to neatly list, side-by-side, two opposing viewpoints with supporting details for each side listed below. Organizing information in this way lends itself easily to creating a written argument.
Step 3: Step Three: Respond to Your Claims
For each point you have listed, write down a response that someone might have for it. This helps you to think more clearly about your argument and find any weak points it may have.
There are several types of information you might want to include on your T-chart for this step. For example, you might include questions that a reader might have about a claim. In your "reasons against" column, respond to common arguments against your position, or note where you concede that an opposing point is valid. Make notes of where you might want to include some examples from your research to help you along when you actually start to put your argument into paragraph form.
Step 4: Step Four: Refine Your Position
At this point, you've (hopefully) given a lot more thought to your argument and the finer points of your position. If you've found some exceptions to your rule or have something else you would like to clarify, go back and revise your original claim. Remember: it's better to adjust your views based on facts than to remain firmly planted in an inaccurate position.
Step 5: Step Five: Organize Your Points
In order to help you form your argument, categorize each point in your chart based on its relevant information. As demonstrated in the example above, some of your points may interact with one another very well and would therefore work together as a cohesive paragraph. However you choose to categorize your claims, use this step to make connections between your ideas so that you can think more clearly as you begin to write.
Step 6: Step Six: Begin Writing!
You now have a solid base for creating your written argument. Use your revised claim as a thesis and create your paragraphs (or sections, depending on how long you want your argument to be) based around the categories you made in your T-chart. Thinking about how your ideas (both supporting and opposing your position) connect will help you create a logical and persuasive argument.
The following links should help you with conducting your research and strengthening your argument: