Argument Construction

Argument Construction

Knowing your topic and knowing what you want to convey to your audience is incredibly important in the process of constructing an argument. You need to understand key elements in the process of constructing your argument. Some of these points will be covered here.

First and foremost what is your topic? Who is your target audience? What do you want them to get out of your writing?

On the first idea- define your topic.

  • Do you know what the specific topic is? A general topic is a good start but within a general topic are a large list of specific topics. Define what specific idea you are writing about.
  • Is the topic suitable for the assignment you are faced with? If your topic is broad you need to pick specific points to hit on and then support your ideas with facts. It should match with who ever gave you the writing assignment. If you’re not sure then check back with the person who gave you the topic to write on for additional guidelines.
  • What is my opinion on the topic? Do I even have an opinion? If you don’t then start reading about the topic and form an opinion so that you can intelligently write on it.
  • How might others disagree with my opinion? Discuss or read about other points of view on the topic.
  • Can I change their opinion to match mine? This is possible if you’re passionate about the topic and know your facts.
  • Can I support my opinion with evidence? Always keep a list of sources of information even informal conversations with co-workers and friends. Everyone has an opinion of some form and it may or may not agree with your own. Be open to listening to what others have to say, your opinion might change.

Identify your audience.

Is your audience a broad one. For this writing assignment it is for the professor but also there is a good chance that others will read it so it is also for classmates. Since it’s a blog online then it’s also for the search engines and those who might read it through searches for keywords. I would not normally format my own notes like this but my audience is a large one and thus my notes on this chapter are different based on the audience.

Structure the Argument

Begin by thinking about the main idea of the argument or topic. What is the purpose of your writing about the topic? If it’s just for an instructor and just an assignment see if you can find another topic that you have an interest in. The more you are interested in learning about your topic the more fun it can be to write about your topic.

An outline is an incredibly useful tool in figuring out how to write a paper or essay. Currently I have an essay in Alaska History to do. My outline for the essay might be as follows:

  • 1. Major Idea– Russians in Alaska and their impact on the Natives of Alaska
    • a. Supporting Idea-
      • i. Supporting Detail
        • 1. Minor Idea
          • a. Supporting Detail
            • 2. Minor Idea
              • b. Supporting Detail
  • 2. Major Idea– Spanish in Alaska and their impact on the Natives of Alaska
    • a. Supporting Idea-
      • i. Supporting Detail
        • 1. Minor Idea
          • a. Supporting Detail
            • 2. Minor Idea
              • b. Supporting Detail
  • 3. Conclusion

Now while this paper is still in it’s early phases I have a general idea in mind for it especially since it’s a logical paper and a comparison opinion type paper digging for the main idea of the articles used for sources.

Once I have thoroughly read the articles once more and know my material well I’ll fill in the outline more and write the essay more efficiently. Now I do not use the outline method as shown above other than as a mental thing in the imagination. I can visualize this outline and generally fill in the blanks as I am writing. Others I know must have an outline to work from in order to write. It’s all personal preference.

Picking your types of argument is based on the assignment for the piece your are writing. There are 3 main ways to structure the argument. These are:

  • Classical
    • Introduction, statement of background, proposition, proof, refutation and conclusion
  • Rogerian
    • Introduction, summary of opposing views, statement of understanding, statement of your position, statement of contexts, statement of benefits
  • Logical
    • Inductive Reasoning
      • experiences, anecdotes, statistics and quotations
  • Deductive Reasoning
    • identify conclusion, examine reasons carefully, formulate premise

Any of these methods and formats will work for a majority of papers, however there are always exceptions to the rules along with ways to combine each method with other methods.

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