You’ve written an argument and now all you have to do is turn it in, right? Wrong! This lesson outlines some strategies for making a written argument stronger.
Your teacher names a topic and asks for a written argument for one side of the issue. You have clear beliefs, but what is the strongest way to outline your opinion?First, let’s clarify the definition and purpose of a written argument. An argument is a set of reasons used in support of one side of an issue or topic.
The key to every written argument is persuasion, which means convincing the reader to agree or to take certain action. Thus, in order to create a strong written argument, you want to provide logical and solid reasons that will persuade the reader. The rest of this lesson describes some tips on how to do this.
The first strategy involves planning, or all the preparations for the argument.
First, research and gather information that will support your argument. However, throughout the whole writing process, if you ever feel lacking in factual support, return to this step and find more evidence.Next, plan an effective presentation for the argument. Some arguments begin with the strongest support first. For example, imagine you are arguing for expansion of stem cell research. If your strongest point is the role of stem cells in curing disease, then begin the argument with this. As you continue, explain the other reasons, from with the next strongest point and ending with the weakest.
Be sure your presentation makes sense within the context of your purpose.Lastly, planning also involves coming up with an intriguing hook, or an interesting introductory element. The hook needs to draw the reader in, and impel him to keep reading. Your thesis, or the statement of the main idea, should follow the hook.
Your reasons should be the body of the argument, and then end with a conclusion that provides closure. This type of planning will ensure your reader clearly understands your argument.
Revising and Rewriting
After the planning stage, write a rough draft. Once it is written, there are a few more steps you can take in order to strengthen the argument, including revising and rewriting. These terms are very closely related, as they both refer to modifying and altering the content of the sentences.Reading through your rough draft, you might notice a weaker section.
In this case, rewrite it in order to make it seem more believable or logical. How to do so will vary, depending on your argument and why it sounds weak. You may need to return to the planning stage and find more factual evidence. Also, you might end up deleting whole sentences that either do not belong, or that contradict your main purpose. Whatever it is, revise and rewrite as needed to strengthen the argument.
Next, edit your argument. This refers to adjusting the grammar and mechanics of the writing. Editing is different from revising and rewriting, as it rarely looks at the actual content of the sentences.
Instead, editing focuses on the smaller aspects of writing that can affect the overall work.For instance, imagine you are the professor reading the written argument in favor of stem cell research. The evidence and reasons might be very logical and supported, but grammatical errors can make it impossible to read. Which means your argument will be ineffective.In addition, there are some other editing factors you can adjust in order to strengthen an argument.
First, try to edit your wording. Avoid any repetition, which is repeating words or ideas. Repetition will make your argument seem invalid.
Second, look at the voice of your argument. If too much is in passive voice, which occurs if the subject comes after the verb, then the argument might seem too submissive and weak. The opposite is active voice, where the subject comes before the verb. Here is an example of both types.
- The doctor used the new approach pioneered through stem cell research to save the patient’s life. (active)
- To save the patient’s life, a new approach pioneered through stem cell research was used by the doctor. (passive)
By the same token, if the whole argument is in active voice, the author might seem too aggressive or intimidating. The key is to strike a balance between the two so you come off as confident, but not too aggressive.
Trying a New Approach
The final tip for strengthening an argument is to try a new approach, which means to rework a major aspect of it. This is a sort of last resort if you feel that some part just doesn’t work.
For instance, perhaps some section doesn’t seem to fit into the rest. For this, either delete it, or try to rework it so that it does fit in, either through revising and rewriting or inserting new information. You might even have to look at your argument from a whole new perspective.Another reason you may need to try a new approach is if your argument comes off as too extreme or opinionated.
In this case, bringing in the other side might make it less extreme. For example, if writing the pro-stem cell research argument, including a paragraph that outlines some of the cons will make the author seem more reasonable. The key with this is to acknowledge the other side, while at the same time naming why that other side is incorrect.
To review, a written argument consists of a set of reasons to support one side to an issue. These arguments aim to persuade, or convince the reader to agree or to take certain action.
Here are some tips for strengthening a written argument.
- Planning – thoroughly prepare the evidence, hook, thesis and presentation of your argument
- Revising and Rewriting – modify and alter sentences and wording to make weak sections strong, or conclusions more logical
- Editing – modifying the grammar and mechanics, including repetition and active/passive voice, to reduce distractions and balance the argument
- Try a new approach – rework a major aspect of your argument by deleting or inserting information, removing extremes and adding counter arguments
Use any or all of these tips in order to make the strongest written argument possible.