Writing Arguments

Steps to Writing an Argument

Develop Your Argument

When you develop your argument, you are confirming your own position, building your case. Use empirical evidence, such as facts and statistics, to support your claims. Appeal to your audience's rational and logical thinking. Argue your case from the authority of your evidence and research.

Your list of strengths and weaknesses can help you develop your argument. Prioritize the strengths and weaknesses for each position; decide on the top three to five strengths and weaknesses. Then, using a technique for developing content ideas, e.g., clustering, association, journalist's questions, [see Chapter 2: Techniques to Get Started], begin to expand your understanding of each of the items on your list. Evaluate each item as to how you can support it—by reasoning, providing details, adding an example, by using evidence. Again, prioritize your list of strengths and weaknesses, this time noting what supporting comments need more work, more evidence, or may be irrelevant to your argument. At this stage, it's better to overlook nothing and keep extensive notes for later reference.

As you develop your ideas, remember that you are presenting them in a fair-minded and rational way, counting on your reader's intelligence, experience, and insight to evaluate your argument and see your point of view.

Techniques for Appealing to your Readers

The success of your argument depends on your skill in convincing your reader—through sound reasoning, persuasion, and evidence—the strength of your point of view. There are three fundamental types of appeal in presenting an argument: reason, ethics, and emotion. As a writer, your task is to weave these three types of appeal skillfully into your argument in a balanced and sensible way.