Establishing your argument before writing essays

As with any piece of writing you need to carefully think out and plan your work. The aim of your work will be to persuade the reader to accept your point of view.

The focus

  • Perhaps the best way to move forward is to first clarify what it is that you are trying to persuade your reader to consider and accept. You need to put this into words, preferable into one or two sentences, very much as you would do if you were working on an academic essay.
  • Think of the learning process that you went through to believe in your argument, what values and understanding did you already hold that persuaded you that a new concept (argument) fitted in with your own thoughts and perceptions. What knowledge do you need to pass on to your reader to help them understand your argument?

The structure

  • Make sure yourargument clear and focussed.
  • Present the other side of the argument but do not present it with equal weighting.
  • Put yourself in the readers shoes and think about what information you need to give the reader to help them understand your point of view.
  • You need to give your reader solid and reliable evidence to support your point of view. This evidence needs to come from a reliable source, such as academic papers, documents, official government sources etc.
  • Be consistent in your viewpoint.
  • Offer an alternative or opposing viewpoint. Show your reader that you understand other viewpoints, and that you understand and comprehend them enough to summarize them convincingly. As a tactic you could also try to provide a counterargument in your essay as this would establish that your argument is solid enough to withstand a counter claim.

The final product

  • Make sure you have been consistent in your attitude all the way through. If you don’t your reader will see through your work and not be at all convinced even though you had covered all aspects of your argument before starting the essay.
  • End you essay with a speculation as to what would happen if your argument was refuted.
  • Read through you essay. Has all the work you put into establishing your viewpoint prior to starting you essay paid off? Would you be convinced by your essay? Get someone else, whose opinion you respect to read your essay, do they share your opinions? Do you need to do any rewrites?