Whether you attend high school or study at college, you are regularly assigned argumentative essays. This type of writing is very common. You also regularly come across topics for argumentative essays in everyday life. They can be ubiquitously found in newspaper articles, on TV debates or overheard in private conversations. At first glance, everything seems to be clear with argumentative writing, as we often get involved in disagreements with friends and family. However, heated verbal arguments have nothing in common with argumentative writing. You might ask, why so? As opposed to verbal duels, which tend to get very emotional, argumentative essays are balanced and appeal to the logic rather than emotions or passion. And that is not the only thing that differentiates verbal arguments from a well-argued opinion expressed in writing. Let us consider the fundamental principles of argumentative essay, dwell on its structure and talk about the features that make it successful.
Main Characteristics of Argumentative Essay
The aim of an argumentative essay is to establish a writer’s attitude to a chosen issue and to persuade readers to accept the given point of view. The key characteristic of this type of writing is that it must be reasoned. This means that before putting down any idea on paper, you should carefully think and make sure that your arguments can be appealing to the readers’ intellect and are powerful enough to convince them. Nothing sounds more compelling than strong facts. Consequently, an argumentative writing should be supported by evidence. Statistics, scientific measurements, testimonials and reliable facts become useful tools for your argumentative writing. As you can see, unlike narrative, descriptive or expository essays, argumentative writing requires thorough research. Whether you write about birth control, capital punishment or animal testing, do your homework on a chosen topic and prepare yourself thoroughly for writing.
Another distinguishing feature of argumentative essays is that they are written on a debatable topic. There is no place for argument where there is consensus. This means, you should pick a topic that evokes contradiction. For instance, a topic about war being an atrocious thing is not debatable. Neither is the topic The Paris Olympic Games in 1900 were the First to Allow Female Athletes. Such topics as Sexual Education at School, Should Government Promote Family Planning, Surveillance Cameras and Public Privacy, Gay Couples’ Rights to Adopt Children, Corporal Punishment as a Way of Discipline are controversial and can be used in argumentative essays. You only have to take a stance and decide whether you are for or against a certain issue raised in your topic.
Once you have weighed the pros and cons and formed an opinion about a problem, keep in mind that your opponents will have counterarguments that may make your arguments appear lame. To avoid such a scenario, be proactive, consider possible opposing views and try refuting them before they are even voiced. For instance, if you are a great supporter of video surveillance in the streets and in public areas, which you state in your essay, you may include the following sentences to emphasize that your opinion holds true: “While opponents of surveillance might claim that it impediments freedom and encroaches on privacy, I find public safety and security of millions far more important than anonymity of each single individual. Besides, collected data is protected and anonymized by the government. That means you have nothing to worry about as long as you are a law-obedient citizen.”
Structure of Argumentative Essays
Just like any other type of academic writing an argumentative essays consists of an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. You probably know that at the core of any paper opening there must be a well thought out thesis statement which serves as the keynote for the whole essay. In argumentative essay the thesis is called a proposition. In your proposition you should make a statement and prove that your assertion is true and is worth of your readers’ support. Usually a good proposition should consist of 3 claims. For example, talking about video surveillance in public areas, a proposition could be written like this:
“These days, video surveillance is not only the most effective way to trace crime and enforce safety, it assists in re-routing public transport based on the amount of people in certain areas waiting for a bus, monitoring available spaces in parking lots and cleanliness of public areas”.
In a main body you should dwell on each of the positive aspects of implementation of video surveillance:
- Safety for the huge urban population and prevention of crime;
- Ensuring more efficient public transportation by mapping of traffic jams and re-routing transport as determined by the number of passengers gathered at a certain bus stop. Spotting available parking spaces and informing drivers about them;
- Monitoring how clean a city is.
As you can see, every single aspect belongs to a different category: safety, transport management and cleanness. Your task is to create logical transitions between the paragraphs so that your essay reads as a coherent paper. Use linking words to make smooth passages from one aspect to another.
Stay precise and implement factual evidence. For example, you should read up on the benefits of surveillance conducted in Singapore. Operate with facts which prove that installment of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras turned out to be effective, namely, it led to decrease in cases of reckless driving, littering, illegal parking, moneylender harassment, etc. Be specific and provide statistical facts. Make sure that you get information from reliable sources. Double-check information and figures found online.
In a conclusion briefly summarize the points you mentioned in the main body and re-state your proposition. The words you use in a conclusion linger on a reader’s mind after they finished reading your paper. That is why it is important to make it a powerful one. For example, you could finish your argumentative essay on video surveillance in the following way:
“The overpopulated urban areas are hard to manage. Crime is even harder to nip in the bud. I find that implementation of surveillance cameras is an answer to many problems faced by local city authorities. CCTV cameras serve as great tools for preventing crime, reinforcing order and management of city transport. Even if people tend to behave in line with the communal norms only because they are afraid of being caught on a camera, I am of the opinion that the end justifies the means so long as life in a city becomes safer, cleaner and more efficient. ”
Tips for Writing an Argumentative Essay
Prior to getting down to writing your argumentative paper, consider the following important pieces of advice:
- Choose a debatable topic that you like a lot or feel strong about. The more engaged in your writing you become, the bigger are chances of writing a powerful paper, and that can only be achieved if you write on something that deeply moves you.
- If perplexed about a suitable topic, browse argumentative essay prompts online. There are plenty of topics with controversial meaning available on the Internet.
- Conduct research. After you have decided on a topic and taken a stance, find factual evidence that would support your opinion. Rely on trustworthy sources of information.
- Create an outline of your essay. Do some brainstorming and jot your ideas down. They will make a skeleton for your paper.
- Remember that the statements you are planning to use are arguable. You should be able to answer the following question to define whether a statement is arguable or not: “What justification can I provide to make readers believe in what I say?”
- Produce a catchy introduction. Yours reader really must get absorbed in your writing starting from the opening sentence. Grab their attention by using examples and illustrations. Otherwise they might lose interest before they move on to a main body.
- Remember that the aim of your writing is not to merely inform but to convince the readers. Use a persuasive tone, appeal to your reader’s mind. Be knowledgeable about what you write.
- Use evidence in various forms including statistics, examples, testimonies, expert opinion and data. Use citations whenever applies.
- Persuasion is all about credibility. Be honest, rely on compelling facts, and argue in a logical manner. This will convince your readers.
- Use headings and subheadings to guide readers into what to expect from your paragraphs and help comprehend of their reading.
- Be prepared for your claims to be challenged and refute possible counterarguments before your opponent voices them.
- Avoid hasty generalizations, stereotypes, name calling in your paper, as those are common fallacies.
- Once you have completed your essay writing, make sure it is error-free. Go with a fine comb and check for grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes.
- Give your essay for proof-reading to your family member or a friend. Ask them if they find it persuasive.
As you can see, writing an argumentative essay is not easy, as apart from good writing skills it involves initial research, analytical thinking, logical approach and declamatory skills. However, once you know the principles, do your homework and stick to the tips outlined above, you can produce a powerful and coherent argumentative paper.