“Writing an Argument” Pre-writing Plan

Before creating your plan, read “The Assignment: Taking a Stand” (Bedford 164-176), and refer back to these pages as you continue pre-writing, drafting, and revising.

1. Focus on Issue/Problem: What issue or problem will you explore? What makes this interesting or important? What is your current stance on this issue? (one paragraph)

2. Preliminary Plan

Use the Parts of an Argument and “Use Toulmin Reasoning” (Bedford 168-170) to help you understand this section

A. State your main claim and label it “Main Claim”. If your argument has two claims or a claim regarding a problem and another for your solution, list them separately and label them appropriately.

B. Under your main claim (or under each claim if you have more than one) list the reasons you plan to give to support your claim. (Note: you are free to add, change or delete reasons when you get to the drafting stage.) Please note that you should NOT list facts or other evidence yet – only your reasons.

C. Counterarguments: list any other points of view that you will need to acknowledge or refute.These can be conflicting claims, facts or reasoning. (See Bedford 174 and Parts of an Argument for help on this.)

3. Keyword brainstorming: How will you research? Generate a list of at least 10 words or phrases you can use to search for information. Keep the words and phrases short, so you can combine them in different ways. List synonyms or similar words separately. (You’ll sometimes get different results with different words.)

4. Focus on Research: Where do you plan to research to find out more on your issue, evidence to support your reasons, and other views to help you counter-argue?(Examples of sources: Internet web pages (like Pro-con.org), internet journals, databases like EBSCO’s Academic Search Elite (See CCC library page) , discipline specific databases like ERIC (See CCC library page), specific newspapers (online or archives, vertical files at the public library, books, govt. documents, local businesses, organizations, or individuals (An interview is an accepted source of information.)

(Note: your Argument essay needs to include a minimum of three sources, and at least one of your sources needs to come from a database, so you should include a database in your research plan.)

Focus on Audience:

A. Describe your target audience using whatever categories apply (You CAN”T choose “general audience” and you can’t choose an audience that already agrees with your position). Age: (adult/child, specific age groups like teens, 20s +30s – retired – generation-X, baby boomers, etc., ) Gender; ethnicity or culture; nationality; political preference (Republican/Democrat/non-partisan, etc.); socio-economic class (income range); education; occupation, religion, specific interests or other categories.

B. What does your audience know about the issue/problem? What is their current stance?

C. What values and/or interests do you have in common with your audience? Can you appeal to any of these values or interests as you create your argument?

D. What types of appeals will be persuasive to this audience? Emotional appeals? Ethical Appeals? Logical Appeals? What combination? (See the Persuasive Appeals and Bedford 175-176 for help in this section.)
E. The best way to really picture your audience is to draw a picture of your target audience (one person.) Who do you want to convince the most? You can draw either a real person or a composite, but do imagine and decide what they are like. Name your person. Say what age they are. Label identifying parts of clothing, hairstyle, etc. Write a list of special interests like hobbies, shows he/she watches, favorite things to do, etc. Remember that your audience can’t be someone who already tends to agree with you. (scan your picture or take a photo of it – then add it to your reply.)

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