How to Write an Argumentative Essay in 15 Steps

How to Write an Argumentative Essay in 15 Steps
Since ancient times, "argument essay" has meant a logical discussion written down in essay format. In recent years, however, the format has acquired the somewhat misleading title "argumentative essay."
Whatever you call the essay, your success will depend on seeing all the issues from your opponents' viewpoint so you can make your case and refute the opposition's attacks. And you must do all that while being logical, reasonable, and very polite.

Here is how to prepare an argument for an argumentative essay:

1. Pick a debatable topic. It cannot be a statement of fact or a matter of taste. It must be a proposition someone could logically argue for or against using the same set of definitions. And it should be narrow enough that you could read everything written on the topic before you write your essay.

2. Put your topic into a single sentence to use as your working thesis statement. Write in the affirmative, as if you support the topic.

3. Define the key terms in your topic precisely.

4. Verify that both sides of the argument define the key terms the same way. If the opposing parties define key terms differently, the topic as you phrased it is not debatable. You must start over.

5. Identify the key spokespersons for each side.

6. Identify the key arguments supporting your working thesis.

7. Identify the key arguments against your working thesis.

8. Determine the weak points in evidence supporting your working thesis.

9. Determine the weak points in evidence against your working thesis.

10. Decide how to refute arguments supporting your working thesis.

11. Decide how to refute arguments against your working thesis.

12. Decide which side of the argument you will take in your essay.

13. Write a brief introduction that puts the topic in context but does not include any material destined for your body paragraphs.

14. Write your essay body. Somewhere in the body you must acknowledge and, if possible, refute the opposition to your thesis.

15. End the essay with a conclusion that restates your thesis and gives readers a sense of the reasonableness of your thesis.

By carefully researching and planning your argument, you can write an "argumentative essay" and still remain friends with those who disagree with your thesis.

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