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Teacher Tips and Answers

Prewriting for Argument Essays

To write a narrative argument, you first have to create two separate compositions—an argument essay and a narrative. You will need to complete the steps of the writing process for both before combining the pieces into a narrative argument. What form you begin with is up to you, but we recommend completing your argument essay first since it will form the basis of your final paper. If you wish to start with your narrative, skip ahead to the "Prewriting for Narratives" lesson and circle back to this one after you've completed your narrative.

The prewriting activities in this lesson will help you plan your argument essay—identifying a controversial topic, researching the issue, developing a position about it, and gathering reasons, evidence, and responses to objections.

Prewriting to Consider Controversies

Effective argument essays focus on controversial issues. A controversy is a subject about which people disagree. Facts don't leave much room for disagreement because they can be directly proven. Controversial topics involve the following:

  • Opinions are personal preferences such as the best U.S. president or the most important qualities of a video game. One person states an opinion and provides reasons to support it, but someone else can have an opposing opinion.
  • Proposals are suggestions about what should be done in the future. Since no one knows for certain the future outcome of any action taken now, proposals cannot be directly proven until after they have consequences.
  • Hypotheses are explanations for how something might be working. They are "educated guesses" about what is going on. Arguments and experiments can provide reasonable support for them, but hypotheses only become scientific theories or laws after extensive experimentation.

You can think about controversies locally, at your school and in your community, or more broadly, in your country and around the world. What do people feel about the controversies? What opinions, proposals, or hypotheses are most commonly linked to them? One student jotted down the following controversial positions that he encountered at school, read about in local and national newspapers, and discovered on Google News.

This lesson is a part of the Writing Narrative Arguments unit.

Click the title to view more information about this unit and a full list of lessons that are included.

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