Monday, October 28, 2019
Writing to argue Essay Example for Free
Writing to argue Essay Writing to argue is a very popular choice of writing for both exams and coursework. By carefully following the advice below you should be able to improve your grade ARGUMENT OR PERSUASION? Argument and persuasion are very similar styles of writing; indeed many treat them both as writing that seeks to influence. There are some differences, however. An argument is an issue about which reasonable people disagree. An effective argument, therefore, will put forward a well-reasoned point of view, one that recognises but aims to counter other equally valid views; persuasion tends to be far more single-minded in its aim to change minds. A good argument is based, therefore, mainly on reason (even if this is passionately even emotionally conveyed); persuasion tends to be a more one-sided, personal and emotional conviction that only one way is the right way. ARGUMENT AND THE ANCIENT ART OF RHETORIC The art of argument and persuasion has been studied for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks called it rhetoric and its two most famous teachers were the two Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Cicero. CLASSICAL RHETORIC The Greeks believed that the ideal way to persuade someone was through the use of reason alone (which they called logos); however, they recognised that human weakness meant that two further techniques were also useful: the appeal to character (called ethos) and the appeal to emotion (called pathos). LOGOS THE APPEAL TO REASON Most people believe themselves to be reasonable so appealing to a persons sense of reason is the most effective means of convincing them to change their way of thinking. ETHOS THE APPEAL TO CHARACTER We all share common ideas of what is right and wrong; demonstrating your own or appealing your opponents sense of what is right and fair is highly persuasive. PATHOS THE APPEAL TO EMOTION It is said that when emotion comes in through the door, reason departs via the window so use emotional pleas with care; but, persuasion does often succeed by the careful and considered use of emotion especially showing how passionate you feel for your point of v iew. What makes an effective argument? * Arguments should seek to answer the question Why? in full for one side of the argument (some exam questions might ask for both sides to be made clear). * The tone of voice with which you choose to address your reader (e.g. friendly, serious, assertive, etc.) and the register of language you adopt (the complexity of vocabulary and degree of formality or informality, for example) should be appropriate to the task and the audience. 1. Consider your audience * Immediately capture their attention with a lively and interesting opening sentence. * Be tactful and show you respect their point of view (but never agree that it is better than your own!) * Sound authentic, knowledgeable, trustworthy and convincing. * Acknowledge that other views exist but find ways to counter these with your own more reasonable points. * Logic and reason win arguments but be passionate about your views * Interest your audience by using a suitable anecdote to illustrate one of your major points. * Never sound superior, condescending or impolite. Any suggestion that other viewpoints are silly or foolish is the equivalent of calling your reader silly and foolish. The result? Lost argument. Lost marks. Try switching roles how could you be convinced? 2. Know the conventions of the form of your writing * You may be asked to write in the form of an essay, a formal or informal letter, an newspaper or magazine article, a school newsletter, a speech, and so on. Make sure you know the conventions that apply to each of these. 3. Know the most effective argument methods * Remember that because the other sides view is reasonably held, you will only win them over through impassioned reason and logic. * The key to a successful argument is to plan well, making sure you release your various points in a progressively convincing order. Try to show that you have planned or, as the examiners put it: consciously shaped your response. This gains many extra marks. * You need to show that your opponent can trust you so make up a solid and believable reason why you are in a good position to argue over this issue. * An effective way of convincing someone that you are reasonable is to argue from a position of what is called common ground. This is an outcome that is common to both of you an end-point you both desire. Having acknowledged this, you then proceed by showing how your way to this goal is the best way. * A strong way to show how reasonable you are is to acknowledge that other views are well thought out just not quite as well thought out as your own. This is a skilful and subtle approach. * Using a humorous or vivid but entirely reasonable and realistic anecdote to illustrate a point can be an excellent way of countering the opposite point of view, e.g. Let me tell you about a friend of mine. He . * Use rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions, list of three, repetition, etc. to increase the persuasive power of your argument. The most successful arguments are INTERESTING, ORIGINAL AND APPEALING ORGANISED, PROGRESSIVE AND CONVINCING EASY TO FOLLOW THOUGHTFUL AND CONSIDERATE SUBTLE and SOPHISTICATED IN MORE DETAIL 1. Plan 2. Write 3. Check 1. PLAN * Planning: Put simply, you will probably lose marks if you fail to plan before you write. Each year the examining boards report that this is the case. The mark schedules state that the students argument needs to be consciously shaped and this means well-structured; a plan is essential for this. You have one hour for this question so time is on your side for once. * Decide on what would be a suitable style for your kind of reader. * Brainstorm to create a list of points in favour of your idea. Choose five of the most convincing. Check that each point is truly separate and not a part of a larger, more general point; if it is, use the larger point. Make sure each point is truly convincing switch roles: would these persuade you? * Organise these five points into a progressive and persuasive order. * Create an equivalent list of opposing points that you may need to counter. * Work out a few ways to add interest and authority to your writing: rhetorical questions, an effective anecdote a piece of research, an expert opinion. * Aim to use REASON rather than EMOTION but do show your beliefs are passionately held, also you could use humour or emotion in one of the anecdotes you use. And always remember that if you call the oppositions view silly or foolish, you are effectively calling your reader silly and foolish too. Result: lost argument; lost marks. 2. WRITE OPENING PARAGRAPH * Open strongly and in an original way to capture your readers attention. * State your own point of view but dont be too strident in your tone. * If relevant and useful, give the history and background of the argument. * Find some common ground between you and your reader to generate trust and goodwill in you as a person and as a thinker. Selling yourself will help your reader decide to buy your ideas. BODY (CENTRAL) PARAGRAPHS * Open each paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the points created from your planning above. * Explain, develop and explore fully each point you make in a logical, sensitive and clear way. * Try to link each paragraph to the next by using a subtle transition or hook sentence at the end of every body paragraph. * Acknowledge opposing views but sensitively refute them and show how your view is best. * Add power to your argument by using rhetorical devices. HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF RHETORICAL DEVICES Rhetorical questions, similes, metaphors, emotive language (use with care!), irony (but never sarcasm!), lists of three, repetition, hyperbole (exaggeration for effect), humour, anecdotes, and so on. * Add fluency to your argument by using discursive markers. HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF DISCURSIVE MARKERS However; although, if so, and so, but, clearly, on the other hand, therefore, supposing that, furthermore, looked at another way, in contrast, on the contrary, etc. * Add authenticity to your argument by sounding sincere, using anecdotes (true accounts) and so on. * Add authority to your argument by writing confidently and using effective support, e.g. expert opinion, statistics, and so on make this up in the exam, but keep it reasonable. CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH * Round up your argument by restating your case and summarising your main points. End as you began in a powerful, interesting and memorable way. 3. CHECK In this part of the exam, you gain marks for writing in an accurate, clear and fluent way. Each year the examiners report mentions that many students failed to achieve a higher grade because they failed to check and correct their work. Always give yourself time to check your writing thoroughly before handing in the exam paper. Read each sentence after you have written it Write using a variety of sentence types and styles but remember especially that shorter sentences are often more interesting because they are crisper and clearer. An occasional ultra-short sentence can add real impact to writing. Never fail to re-read your sentences after writing them to check that they are complete in their sense, accurate in their grammar and spelling and follow on logically and smoothly from the last. Check every paragraph. A paragraph is a written discussion that covers a single topic one topic among the many that are needed to cover the subject matter of the whole piece of writing. One of the sentences in the paragraph, and quite often the first one, is called the topic sentence. This is the sentence that introduces, or tells in a nut shell, what the paragraph is going to be about. The remaining sentences do no more than expand and explore the ideas raised by the topic sentence in more depth. No points that are unrelated to the main topic should be covered in the same paragraph. Each paragraph should flow smoothly from its predecessor. This is achieved by the use of a subtle hook sentence at the end of the paragraph; this is a sentence that hooks into the new topic of the next paragraph. To correct a missed paragraph simply put this mark where you want in to be: // then, in your margin write: // = new paragraph. The examiner will not mark you down for this so long as you have not forgotten all of your paragraphs. Examine each comma Over, or misuse, of commas is a common and important error that can lose many marks. Many of you will occasionally use a comma instead of a full stop to end some of your sentences. You are failing to recognise where the end of the sentence should have been. Too much of this leads to a dreary and difficult-to-read style because it destroys the clarity and crispness that is a necessary part of all good writing. A sentence is a group of words that is about one main idea or thought. It should seem complete to its reader. Sentences that drift into several ideas, or which seem incomplete, are less clear and interesting to read. Ending a sentence with a comma (or even nothing but a space) instead of a full stop will allow it to run on or drift in this way. Try to use commas only to mark off parts of a sentence so that the sentence reads more smoothly or makes clearer sense. Look at every apostrophe. Look at the words you have used that end in s. Are they plurals? If so the chances are they do not need an apostrophe. Apostrophes are used to show when a letter has been missed out (as in: shouldnt) and when two nouns belong to each other (as in: the schools entrance). Also make sure that when you write its you do mean it is (as in its cold) not belonging to it (i.e. as in: its surface).