Regardless of which starting point you use, you are essentially approaching a definition with a “magnifying glass,” revealing your subject’s deeper layers, meanings, and implications.
LENGTH The final draft of this essay should be 750–1000 words, or 3–4 double-spaced pages (plus a Works Cited Page).
ACADEMIC AUDIENCE Direct this essay to a diverse audience of classmates. Assume various ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds, and assume your readers are both curious and reasonably educated.
You should be able to follow your preliminary outline (Journal Writing 4) to create your overall structure for this essay. Here is one way to organize an argumentative essay:
Introduction: In the initial draft, include your topic, your claim (or viewpoint) that you plan to defend, and a brief summary of your plan of presenting the evidence. Return to this introduction when you begin your revisions and rework it in terms of voice and interest.
Body: Aim for 3-5 supporting points, and devote a separate body paragraph to each point. State each point as a way of creating a topic sentence for an evidence paragraph. Each evidence paragraph should have specific support by way of facts, statistics, examples, or other details. Because the topic is likely more immediate to you, you may use personal examples, but the bulk of your argument should rely on more objective support.
Counterargument: After you present your defense, include a counterargument paragraph. Begin this paragraph with a clear transition that indicates an opposing viewpoint. For example, you could begin, “Critics disagree with the definition of _______ and feel that _______ is a more appropriate definition of the term.” The counterargument paragraph should clearly state the most reasonable counter position, but it may reference more than one opposing viewpoint. Explain the most compelling counterargument(s); then refute the opposition. Be fair and respectful to your audience, keeping in mind that you are trying to win over readers who don’t agree with you. Offending, insulting, or demeaning skeptical readers will not convince them to accept (or even consider) your viewpoint. Remember: “Be confident but not overbearing…readers nearly always tune out a harsh or insensitive voice, and they are less likely to be convinced by a wishy-washy one” (Inventing Arguments, 164). Use strong, reasonable details to overcome opposing viewpoints. Conclusion: The conclusion is an important summing up and review of your evidence and defense. Give your audience a satisfying sense of closure, and leave them with a solid sense of your integrity and your reasonable voice.
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