Grissom's Grammar and Composition

This blog is for any student writing papers for college, for current and former students in my Communications Cluster at Lindenwood University, and my students at St. Charles Community College.

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I write for myself, for the web, and for everyone who gets me. I've been on a fasting liquid diet, traveled to Europe, and raised 2 kids. And I'm directionally challenged - I get lost a lot.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Top 3 Ways to Argue in a Paper

I don't know about you, but everyday arguing at my house isn't usually to convince anyone to agree with me. It is more of a take-no-prisoners-I-am-right-you-are-wrong conflict about who left the lights on downstairs. Arguments in writing, though, must be different. They seek to persuade your audience rather than win an argument. Using the three argument methods below can help you persuade an audience to agree with you.

1) Go For Their Emotions
Students think school writing must be as dry and factual as possible. While evidence is crucial to research writing assignments, living, breathing human stories show your audience how the issue works in real life. So get to the audience's emotions by showing stories they can care about. For example, include the experiences of home schooled students for an essay on home schooling. If you don't show how the problem affects average people, you will ignore a valuable argument tool. This is also called the Pathos Appeal.

2) Appeal to Their Logical Side
Using logic is critical to arguing. You must have solid evidence and logical arguments that back up all of your ideas. Don't use any logical fallacies and if it is a research paper argument, include plenty of reputable research like expert opinions, studies, experiments, and surveys. Style Guides like MLA have directories that show how to cite different types of sources, so every kind of source listed is fair game. The more evidence, the better. This is also called the Logos Appeal.

3) Get Them to Like You
You have a personality when you write, just like you do when you talk. If your writing sounds reasonable, your readers will listen to you. If you offend an audience, they won't agree with you. We don't want to agree with people we don't like, so avoid name calling the other side or you'll be labeled radical and untrustworthy.

And consider your audience. If your paper is on recycling and you lecture your readers for being wasteful, they won't listen to you. Acknowledging arguments on the other side also contributes to your credibility, so don't ignore valid points on the other side. Acknowledge that you see their point, but explain why you still hold your view.

Example: Yes, we have made strides in medicine by experimenting on animals, but now we have computer models that can simulate the way actual human cells will react, so we no longer need animals to experiment on.

If the oppositions arguments aren't valid, then explain why in a reasonable tone.

This method is also called the Ethos Appeal.