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In: English and Literature

Submitted By meekar19
Words 2586
Pages 11
Constructing an Argument

Section 1: Big Ideas
Many people believe that everything is an argument—every piece of writing, every image you see. That's because every time we write something down—with the possible exception of a private journal entry—we are anticipating that someone else will read or see it, and we hope to achieve some kind of response in that reader or viewer. So even if you are writing a description of your favorite vacation spot, you are probably trying—maybe without even realizing it—to convince your reader that your vacation spot is the most beautiful place in the world. Think about it. When did you read any nonfiction writing that wasn't, finally, trying to persuade you of something in some way?
Most rhetoricians—that's people who think about argument and language—agree that there are three basic ways to appeal to an audience. You can appeal to logic. That is, you can lay out your argument in clear, coherent steps, so your reader or listener can see how you get from one conclusion to the next. Or you can appeal to authority. Here you may want to find experts or facts to support your argument—think about Tiger Woods endorsing golf clubs. (Of course, do we also trust Tiger to advise us on buying watches? Not so clear.) Or you can appeal to emotion. Emotional appeals can be extremely powerful, especially when you are able to relate your argument to your readers' values or needs. Most good arguments make use of all three appeals in some way.
But how do you actually construct an argument? First things first: the thesis. The thesis is probably the single most important sentence in the entire paper, because it's what every other element of the paper is working to support. It's the anchor, providing a point for both the reader and you, the writer, to come back to. This puts a lot of pressure on you to choose a good thesis statement, but...

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