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What are the first steps to write an argumentative essay?

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When advising students how to write any essay, the first thing I encourage is pre-writing. Many students take a writing assignment and immediately begin drafting an essay starting with the introduction. This is not the best way. The best way to write an argumentative essay is to follow these basic steps:

  1. State your argument (topic) in the form of a question. Example: Are cell phones dangerous for teens?
  2. Answer your question with affirmatively or negatively (yes or no?). Do not choose both! It is a common mistake in argumentative writing to try to prove that both sides have equally strong arguments. While this may be true, in your essay, you are advised to simply pick one side and only prove that side. Example: Cell phones, under certain circumstances, are dangerous for teens. **This will become the basis of your thesis statement.
  3. Brainstorm a list of examples that support your answer from #2. Be as specific as possible. Use anything you can think of from observations, experience, research, readings, pop culture, and the media. Use quotes from printed sources where applicable. Remember, this is brainstorming, so make the list long.
  4. Organize your list into two or three categories of examples. Utilizing your strongest examples, group similar ideas together and create a category to label each group. These will become the topics for each body paragraph so create a minimum of three categories, but you might have more.
  5. Create an outline. Create a thesis statement from your answer in #2 and your categories in #4. This thesis statement can be one or two sentences long. Write a topic sentence for each body paragraph using each category from #4. List short examples (from #3) under each category.
  6. Write rough draft. Though you already have a thesis statement, topic sentences, and examples, you must include elaboration or analysis of each example within the body paragraphs.
  7. Edit.
  8. Polish/publish final draft.

Hopefully this gives you a pretty good idea of how to begin and follow through with your argumentative essay. For further help, the link below also provides detailed instructions on argumentative essay writing.

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