The Assignment: You are to research and compose an argumentative or persuasive essay focusing on a controversial issue (you may not write on abortion, gun control, marijuana legalization, gay marriage, or creationism/evolution). Argumentative essays enlighten your readers to the rationale behind your position on a debatable issue. However, persuasive essays not only enlighten your readers to your position on an issue, but also attempt to coerce readers to take some sort of action. You will be transforming your essay into a speech which you will present to the class.
The Prewriting Stage:
Step 1: Finding an issue
1. List possible topics
2. Select the topic in which you are most interested
3. Consider if others will be interested in it as well Step 2: Preliminary research—exploring the issue
1. Define your issue; develop your claim
2. What do you understand about it already? Brainstorm and list what you know about it. Explore your position.
3. What has been written or said about your issue by others?
4. How does your issue impact others?
5. Research the history of the issue.
6. Is your issue focused enough to be analyzed successfully? Is it so narrow that little has been written about it, or that few sill express an interest? Step 3: Considering your audience
1. How will most of your readers probably feel about his issue? 2. What do you expect them to know about it already? 3. Should you address your essay to an audience who disagrees with your position, or will you be “preaching to the choir”? Are you going to have to impact their underlying beliefs and values? Remember, you must address opposing arguments. Step 4: Reassessing your choice
1. Has your research supplied enough for you to maintain your
claim? 2. Is there enough information available to addressing opposing arguments? 3. Do you need to learn more about it?
Step 5: Constructing your argument—preparing to address those who disagree
1. List every reason that you can think of that will help your argument and convince your readers to reconsider their position and adopt yours.
2. Consider effective appeals (ethos, pathos, logos)
3. Number your points or assertions in order of strength or plausibility
4. Under each point or assertion, list potential objections or questions that it could raise.
5. Consider how you would respond to that objection or question
6. Consider how you would refute any illegitimate or illogical objections or questions.
Step 6: Anticipating opposing arguments
1. List widely known opposing positions to your claim 2. Meet in groups and allow other students to play “devil’s advocate” by arguing the opposing side. 3. Number the opposing points or assertions in order of strength or plausibility; you will address the strongest points in your essay 4. List reasons for the opposing points
5. Prepare to accept or concede portions of plausible opposing arguments 6. Prepare to refute an implausible point or assertion. Validity of opposing arguments may be addressed by: *Giving a counterexample
*Questioning the authority or source, the validity of the facts *Questioning the logic of the opposing point
The Drafting Stage:
1. Determine your claim. State it clearly in your opening paragraph 2. Define the issue and your purpose to your readers. Why are you writing about this? Why should your audience be interested?
3. Getting the reader’s attention—anecdote (telling a story), startling statistic, interesting quote, significance of your concerns 4. The background/history of the issue (if significant) 5. Establish the appropriate tone for your subject and your audience Body Paragraphs
Supporting your claim
1. State your reasons for supporting your position along with evidence 2. Go beyond simple assertions; consider the nature of your appeals (ethos, pathos, logos) Body Paragraphs
Addressing potential opposing arguments. You may either 1. Concede the validity of an opposing argument by qualifying part or accepting all of it while explaining why your position is stronger, or 2. Refute the opposing argument by stating why it is invalid or weak. Conclusion
1. Restate your claim
2. State the significance of your position. How does it affect the future? 3. Make a final emotional appeal if appropriate
4. State a call for action (persuasion)
5. Appeal for further study of research
Self Evaluation: Address the following questions:
1. Did you stick with your original topic or did you change it?
2. What problems did you encounter during the process of creating the essay?
3. List two of the most important changes you made. Why did you make them?
4. Of what part of your essay are you most proud? Why?