Project on Writing Your Own Argument

Project on Writing Your Own Argument Writing 122

Writing Project: Writing Your Own Argument

For this writing project, you will write a 1,100-1,300 word argument about a topic of your choice. Maybe you will choose a current issue (something you’ve seen in the news lately that interests you or affects you on a personal level or something one of your classmates introduced you to).

Project on Writing Your Own Argument
Project on Writing Your Own Argument

Again, keep these important points about argumentative writing in mind:

Project on Writing Your Own Argument

Be sure your topic is focused so that you can provide a thorough argument in the allotted number of words. When you select a topic, whatever the topic, ask yourself this question: What, precisely, is the argument or disagreement my paper will try to resolve? You will need to spend some time “drilling down” through the issues to refine your topic into something manageable.

Remember that to have an argument, there must be not only disagreement, but there must also be reasoned disagreement. Again, strive to make yourself a “mini-expert” on your topic so you know what you are talking about (and where the disagreements are) before you begin writing. I would, again with this essay, recommend that you begin with some argumentative questions, then educate yourself about the issue, then form your claim. Don’t jump the gun on forming your claim, as it may change along the way while you are doing your research.

Use the basic elements of argument where appropriate: claim, opposition, response, support.

Again, you are required to use a minimum of four sources in this essay, including one that is a scholarly source, and to properly document them in MLA format (with internal references and a Works Cited page). Be sure that you are clear about each source’s credibility.

Project on Writing Your Own Argument

With this essay, I’d also like you to begin thinking more about the type of argument you are making. Is it:

  • an argument of definition (e.g. Is internet addiction disorder really an addiction?)
  • an argument of evaluation (e.g. Should the use of cell phones in classes be a matter of college policy?)
  • a causation-based argument (e.g. Will better internet filters and parental controls

decrease access to pornographic materials by minors?)

  • a policy/proposal argument (e.g. Should Michigan make marijuana legal for recreational use?)

Fact-based and reason-based arguments are the ones with which we are most familiar and therefore are often the easiest to make and support, but you might also choose to base your argument on values, on character or to argue from the heart. These types of arguments are usually more challenging to make but can also be fun if you feel passionate about something that lends itself to a different type of approach.

Project on Writing Your Own Argument

And yet another variation you might try with this essay is a different organizational pattern for presenting your claim, support and responding to counterclaims. The following is one possible organization plan for to follow, though, of course, there are other possibilities for structuring your argument.

Part 1: Introduction. Leads to a statement of claim or perhaps a question to focus the debate your essay will develop. There is a variety of introductory strategies you might use, but generally, introductions should be fairly brief, one or two paragraphs, and they should clearly establish the issue. Often, a dramatic example of a problem works well.

Sample Claim: The lottery is not the blessing it claims to be.

Part 2: Counterarguments. What you present next will be a counterargument, created by that claim. If your claim, for example, is the one I listed above, the next paragraph should begin with a reaction to it, such as:

It’s true, of course, that the lottery does provide revenue . . .

Some point out that the lottery provides revenue . . .

Project on Writing Your Own Argument

Whatever you do here, be sure to present each “opposing” point clearly and fairly (and give them a voice where possible by providing researched evidence for them). And be sure you respond (concede and/or refute) to them fully. You might want to present one “opposing” point at the beginning of a paragraph and then respond to it in the same paragraph (or the next paragraph if your response is long). And then, when you move to another opposing point, begin a new paragraph and do the same thing.

Counterarguments may take up a few or several paragraphs, depending on the needs of your essay.

Part 3: Support for your position. This part of your paper should focus on the reasons—beyond what you’ve stated in your response to “opposing” points—that you claim is valid. Each reason or point should be presented and explained in a separate paragraph, and each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence. Some example of topic sentences:

One problem with the lottery is that is consistent targets the poorest and least educated members of our society.

Another problem is that it sends the wrong message about living and success, a message that is, in fact, anti-education.

Project on Writing Your Own Argument

This part of your essay will consist of a few or several paragraphs, depending on the needs of your essay.

Part 4: Conclusion. I suggest you not even think about this part of your essay until you’ve written and rewritten the other parts. But when the time is right, reread your essay carefully and then write a conclusion that “falls out” of your last supporting paragraph.

Don’t merely summarize the points you made in the argument—that’s a waste of readers’ time and energy. Instead, use your conclusion to add to your argument—by re-emphasizing the importance of accepting your position, by offering a stern (if justified) warning, and so on. Be sure your essay ends with a bang, not a whimper.

Formatting: Essay must be word processed using a 12-point font size (Arial or equivalent), double spaced with a title centered at the top of the first page and the Works Cited page that appears as a separate page after the last page of the essay. Do not include a title page. An information block should appear in the top left corner of the first page of your essay that includes your name, my name, WRIT 122, and the due date. For a visual example of the first page of an MLA paper, see pg. 170 or 172 in your Pocket Style Manual.

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