How To Write a Fully Developed Line of Argument

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How To Write a Fully Developed Line of Argument


On essay exams, in papers and speeches, many people tend to list random assertions or factoids because they’ve never been taught to build a fully developed, cogent and coherent line of argument. In order to build a fully developed line of argument–after breaking the topic down into its natural parts (like a clever butcher!), make an assertion, support it, make a transition and move on. Be a lean, mean, writing machine!

Fully developed lines of support always make the following "moves":

Exemplification: Provide the reader with a specific quotation from the text under discussion

Elaboration: Discuss how the quote captures the essence of your assertion.

Illustration: Here is where creativity comes in. Think analogically so you can illustrate the point you are making and paint a picture in the mind of the reader. (Warning: make sure your illustration illuminates–as opposed to obfuscates!)

Application: Always conclude each line of argument with a sentence or two spelling out the link between your analysis and the question at hand. There is a danger common to all such writing and speaking: We often assume that the audience understands a given point because we have ourselves been so absorbed in the topic. So, to avoid this pitfall, make the application move, make a transition and move on to your next point.



    Agr … agreement; noun to verb, number, etc.
    Awk … awkward expression
    Coh … paragraph lacks coherence
    Dev … inadequate development (see above to remedy this problem!)
    fig … faulty figure of speech
    frag … sentence fragment
    id … unidiomatic expression
    pass … questionable use of passive voice
    rep … careless repitition
    run on … two or more sentences masquerading as one
    sp … spelling error
    style … consult your style manual; formatting error
    syn … syntactical error
    trite … trite expression; sophomoric
    wordy … unnecessarily wordy sentence
    WW … wrong word