Finding Arguments

Finding your way into an issue is no easy task. Once you have developed your topic idea, you have to decide how you’re going to approach your issue with your given audience at the time you are writing. You have to think critically about making good decisions as a writer, balancing your own needs with the needs of your audience. Essentially, writing an effective argument is about seeing outside of your own experiences and imagining how others might view your issue. This is definitely a form of critical thinking and gives you good practice at becoming the kind of writer who can be successful in any given writing situation.

But before you begin planning your Pulitzer acceptance speech, it might be helpful to see an example or two of how an effective writer might find an argument from a broad topic or issue.

Click on the video below to see how two students each worked with a topic idea. In the video, you’ll see how each student started with a broad topic, considered audience knowledge, and worked to narrow a topic into a specific argumentative angle.

Video Transcript
Student #1

I am a nursing major and interested in issues surrounding vaccinations. My audience would be parents who bring their children to the office where I work.

I think my audience would be really interested in this issue but may be confused about the amount of information in the media, and on the web in general, about the benefits of vaccinations as well as the problems with vaccinations. I think they would want to have some certain information about whether or not they should vaccinate their children.

I will explore a particular angle about the dangers of not vaccinating children. My assignment gives me flexibility in the type of argument I can use, so I will consider a proposal type argument about providing better and more concise vaccination information to parents.

Student #2

I am writing about an issue in my community and have decided to write about making fresh produce available to people in our community who can’t afford it.

Although I see different approaches to this issue, right now I plan to target the general public in our community to make them aware of the issue and to let them know that there may be solutions.

My audience may not have an initial interest in this topic, so I will have to convince them of the importance of fresh produce for everyone, especially young children. After that, I will have to convince them of a plan that would not cost much, or anything, and would be something reasonable for our community.

My goal will be to develop a proposal that would provide a way to make more fresh produce available to people in our community by looking into the ugly produce movement where produce that does not meet grocery store standards could be used instead of thrown away.

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