It’s time to think about what you’ve learned in this area of the Excelsior OWL and how the rhetorical concepts covered here will help you become a stronger, more flexible writer. Click on the video below to watch a review of key lessons. Be sure the audio is turned up on your computer or device.
Argumentative Writing: Making the “Right” Moves
A writing presentation brought to you by the Excelsior University Online Writing Lab
What are the “right” moves?
There is definitely no one “right” way to write, and there are many ways to develop an effective argument. However, there are some strategies we can learn to help make us stronger writers-and more flexible writers.
All genres of writing will have certain form or structural expectations. Learning how writers choose to meet those expectations—or choose not to meet them—will help you learn about the kinds of moves you want to make when you develop your arguments.
The way you think about writing should involve thinking rhetorically. No matter what you write—from the argument you develop in your writing class, to the lab report for your biology class, to the memo you write to your supervisor—you should approach that writing rhetorically. And, remember, according to Aristotle, rhetoric is about understanding the available means of persuasion no matter the situation. That’s the kind of thinking good writers need!
Everything we write is for someone, even if that someone is ourselves. However, most of our writing is going to be for other people, and this is certainly the case for argumentative writing.
When you are making arguments, everything from your topic angle, to your evidence, to the tone of voice you use when you present that evidence should be shaped by your audience, which can be a really diverse group of people.
Using Modes of Persuasion
The modes of persuasion—ethos (credibility), pathos (emotions), and logos (logic)—are very much about the strategies you will use to be persuasive to your audience. These concepts are ancient and are all about human nature. When you understand the moves you can make to take advantage of these modes, you will feel empowered as a writer.
Avoiding Logical Fallacies
Unfortunately, logical fallacies are everywhere, but to build your ethos as a writer, it’s important that you avoid them.
There are many types of fallacies, and this section of the OWL covers several. The important thing to remember about the fallacies is that they involve over-simplified ways of thinking. You don’t have to memorize all of the fallacies to remember evidence that presents an issue in black and white is going to be problematic.
When using evidence in your argument, you have to consider what is going to be persuasive to your audience. You have a wide variety of options when it comes to evidence. Scholarly articles summarizing research studies are important, but so are the personal stories of people involved with an issue. Just keep these tips in mind in terms of evidence:
- Avoid sources with faulty logic.
- Include sources that are credible.
- Keep quotes to a minimum.
- Paraphrase when you can.
- Work to be convincing!
Putting It All Together
The OWL is a resource that is going to give you the tools you need to succeed as a writer, but how you choose to use those tools is up to you.
There is no “formula” for writing good arguments. You are provided with many samples, but you may not always follow a sample exactly. The goal of the Argument & Critical Thinking area of the OWL is to help you think like a writer and then approach your arguments carefully and thoughtfully. The OWL is here to help you learn some of the moves good writers make!