Learning Effective Argument-Building through Writing an Argumentative Essay

The actual process of writing and especially of an argumentative essay comprises of several phases. After giving you an idea of what elements an argumentative piece of writing should have, this article now takes you to several steps to follow in writing an argumentative essay.

The Process of Writing

There are several phases during the process of writing which a student is advised to follow.

1) Planning

a) Choosing a topic

There are a number of ways in which you could reach to the topic of your choice. You can either choose a debatable issue that is very relevant to your situation like the number of summer holidays a school should have or the issue of wearing uniform in schools. It could also take a position on social issues like the effect of watching TV on children or should rich people pay more taxes. You can also debate on issues that have emotional appeal to you like allowing teens to take their own decisions.

b) Brainstorming

Decide your position – whether you want to go for a topic or against it. This should be based on your previous knowledge about the topic and your way of looking at it. Do a little brainstorming and jot down your ideas about the points of defense or the reasons/claims for adopting a particular position. The number of reasons would depend on the type of issue chosen and the length of your essay as you might want to allocate one paragraph for each point. Also, think about the counter-claims and how you can refute them.

Here is an example of how to brainstorm about a position, and collect claims/arguments and counter claims/arguments to defend your position. Remember you need to be aware of counter-claims in order to negate them for strengthening your claims.

Issue: Is it wise to travel long distances by bus or by an airplane?
Position: I prefer travelling by bus to long distances.
  • It’s cheaper to travel by bus.
  • You tend to know many places and can see the nature.
  • Families can spend a quality time with each other discussing important matters they couldn’t do in their busy routine of life.
  • It is very tiring to travel long distances by bus.
  • You feel congested.
  • Families can have trouble in eating and drinking.
c) Gathering the information

After you have made your decision, it’s time to collect information and evidence that would help prove your points. If you are unfamiliar with the topic or not having enough information, carry out a little background search to have a rough idea on the topic before you could actually start penning down your ideas. Collect the evidence, proofs, examples, quotes, etc. that you can use to prove your points. Go for the arguments which could be well-supported by evidence or supporting information.

d) Developing a thesis statement

A thesis statement is a sentence or two referring to the position you are going to adopt in the rest of your essay and will defend through evidence. It is situated by the end of your introductory paragraph.

After gathering information, carve out a thesis statement that could best illustrate your point of view. Your thesis statement should identify your topic, the position you are taking with respect to it and the main points that you will argue in your body paragraphs.

e) Making an outline

Make an outline before writing the essay. If you are writing a 5 paragraph composition, the structure of your essay should be like this:

1.Introduction: Background information, Hook, Thesis statement
2.Body 1: Arguments, Counter arguments, Evidence
3.Body 2: Arguments, Counter arguments, Evidence
4.Body 3: Arguments, Counter arguments, Evidence
5.Conclusion: Summation, Reiteration of thesis, Course of action

2) Writing the first draft

The essential parts of your composition are:

  • Introductory paragraph
  • Body paragraphs
  • Conclusion
a) Introductory paragraph

It has background information, and details about your topic. It might also contain a hook or a catchy statement to grab the attention of the reader towards the issue in question. At the end of an introductory paragraph, a clear thesis statement has to be provided.

b) Body paragraphs

Body paragraphs should have a topic sentence and paragraph unity. Each point of defense or claim should be allocated a separate paragraph. You should be able to provide evidence to support your claim. The support can be any statistical data, some factual information, opinion of an expert, an anecdote or your personal experience. It might also include your comments and explanation to show how this is proving your claim.

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