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What to Avoid When Writing an Argumentative Essay

It is important to state briefly what an argumentative essay is i.e. what is involved in the process of writing this genre of essay. Essentially, anyone who is asked to write an argumentative essay should begin by presenting the problem or topic they will base their argument(s) on. They also need to provide a bit of background information on that problem or topic, and they need to give some detail on the primary argument they will be putting forward. This should all be done in a convincing and logical manner. There are also, however, certain things that a writer should not do when attempting to create an effective argumentative essay. The following are some of the things you should try to bear in mind:

  1. Do not waste time making up an excessive number of arguments. In fact, just one is sufficient to make the right impression on your tutor and to make it seem as if you have researched the topic you are working on in great detail.
  2. Allow whatever space you feel is necessary for each individual argument. Although, sometimes, tutors ask their students to keep to roughly the same length for every paragraph, there are some types of arguments that need a lot of words to explain and support them. On the other hand, others can be conveyed effectively in two, three or perhaps four sentences.
  3. Long introductory paragraphs can be skipped. In truth, is this part of the essay necessary or does anyone want it? Usually, this section is devoted to saying how well researched or debated a particular problem already is. While you may wish to give a small amount of background detail, and indeed this is sometimes necessary, it is acceptable to get straight to the point. For instance, you could begin by saying “This essay will be about this subject or that subject,” and then get on with writing what it is you intend to say.
  4. When writing your concluding paragraph, you may add new information if required and as much of it as you desire. This is especially so if you omitted certain supporting points in the main body paragraphs of your essay.
  5. As an argumentative essay, it is acceptable to give your opinions. Although these may well be your own deeply held beliefs, these are essentially points that are made up rather than hard facts. While solid evidence is desirable and recommended where possible, this is not a hugely serious-minded piece of scientific research where credibility really makes a difference. So, if you run short of facts and arguments, it is alright to make arguments up, provided you can do so convincingly and that your ideas are not completely nonsensical. 
  6. When it comes to making claims, do not be afraid to be straightforward or blunt. Where argumentative essays are concerned, controversial subject matter is recommended. Therefore, it is acceptable to be radical in your views and, indeed, the more radical these are, the more your audience is likely to be impressed.
  7. Try to select an unknown topic, one that your readers are not likely to have heard of or know much about. Choosing new material is a great way of showing how unique, innovative, and smart you really are.
  8. Be subjective in the way you express your opinions and beliefs. Your readers will almost certainly appreciate your honesty and sincerity, even to the point of finding it refreshing.

These are just a few ideas and recommendations for writing an argumentative essay. Your experience will continue to grow with practice. The ultimate aim of an argumentative essay is to convince your readers about some issue or other and to get them to agree with your viewpoint, even when their own views may be different.

How to make subject of argumentative essay truly convincing:

  • Make time to find out how other students or subject matter experts argued a position that is reasonably similar to you, or argued a topic that is similar to yours. However, this is not to say you should directly copy their arguments or positions, but you may get some valuable ideas or tips from their work. For instance, you will be able to see how they developed their arguments and so you might get ideas about how best to take your views forward.
  • Make time to understand what opposition you are likely to be faced with. Virtually every topic has two sides that can be argued i.e. one side in favor of it and one side against it. Therefore, making time to understand any contrary views on your particular subject matter may well prove an effective strategy. It is only by understanding what the opposing views are and what counter-arguments your opponents may throw at you that you will be in the advantageous position of knowing how to address them. In fact, it is vital to understand your opponents’ views to be able to counter these in your argumentative essay.
  • Know all the facts. While your arguments will partially be comprised of your own beliefs and convictions, you will also need a certain amount of factual information to give credibility to your work. In fact, there is no substitute for hard facts if you are to support your argument(s) beyond any doubt. Writers do not usually wish to appear as amateurs in the eyes of their readers so, if this is not to happen, you will certainly need solid and verifiable facts to substantiate any claims you make. Without these, you run the risk of appearing to be ill prepared and somewhat casual.
  • Your choice of topic also has a bearing on how successful your argumentative essay is. Essentially, there are two scenarios that apply to choosing a topic. These are a) your tutor decides on a topic or b) you are given the freedom to choose your own topic. In the latter case, you should try to select something that you are interested in, something that you are passionate about, and preferably something, that has a controversial element to it. The truth is that it will be hard to get the attention of your readers if your topic is not interesting and your writing is lacking in passion. By contrast, it is much easier to put an argument across effectively if it is one you are deeply committed to or heavily involved in. Furthermore, it is unlikely your readers will be able to muster much interest in your argument(s) if you do not fully believe in them.
  • Think about how much research you need to do. Clearly, the amount of research needed for any essay will depend on how much you already know or do not know about the topic. However, whatever topic you choose - unless it is extremely unusual - it is likely that others will have written about it previously and argued along the same lines you intend to build your argument. This is the factor worth keeping in mind both when selecting something to write about and after you have chosen.           

And do not forget to always proofread your essays!

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