Most university essays are argumentative, and there is no set pattern for the shape of an argumentative essay. The simple three-point essay taught in high school is far too restrictive for the complexities of most university assignments. You must be ready to come up with whatever essay structure helps you to convince your reader of the validity of your position.
In other words, you must be flexible, and you must rely on your wits. Each essay presents a fresh problem. Though there are no easy formulas for generating an outline, you can avoid one of the most common pitfalls in student papers by remembering this simple principle: the structure of an essay should not be determined by the structure of its source material. For example, an essay on an historical period should not necessarily follow the chronology of events from that period.
Similarly, a well-constructed essay about a literary work does not usually progress in parallel with the plot. Your obligation is to advance your argument, not to reproduce the plot.
If your essay is not well structured, then its overall weaknesses will show through in the individual paragraphs. Detecting something stirring, Hamlet draws his sword and kills Polonius, thinking he has killed Claudius. Now Hamlet has blood on his hands, and the blood of the wrong person. He often accuses them of sins they could not have committed. It is doubtful that Gertrude even knows Claudius killed her previous husband. Hamlet goes on to ask Gertrude to compare the image of the two kings, old Hamlet and Claudius. In Act 3, Scene 1, he denies to Ophelia ever having expressed his love for her, using his feigned madness as cover for his cruelty.
Though his rantings may be an act, they cannot hide his obsessive anger at one particular woman: his mother. The second of these two paragraphs is much stronger, largely because it is not plot-driven. Notice that the paragraph jumps from one scene to another as is necessary, but the logic of the argument moves along a steady path.
At any given point in your essays, you will want to leave yourself free to go wherever you need to in your source material. Your only obligation is to further your argument. Paragraph a sticks closely to the narrative thread of Act 3, Scene 4, and as a result the paragraph makes several different points with no clear focus. Most essay outlines will never be handed in.
Why is the thesis statement important?
They are meant to serve you and no one else. Occasionally, your professor will ask you to hand in an outline weeks prior to handing in your paper.
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Usually, the point is to ensure that you are on the right track. Nevertheless, when you produce your outline, you should follow certain basic principles. This is an example of a sentence outline. Another kind of outline is the topic outline. It consists of fragments rather than full sentences. Topic outlines are more open-ended than sentence outlines: they leave much of the working out of the argument for the writing stage. The earlier you begin planning, the better. It is usually a mistake to do all of your research and note-taking before beginning to draw up an outline. Of course, you will have to do some reading and weighing of evidence before you start to plan.
But as a potential argument begins to take shape in your mind, you may start to formalize your thoughts in the form of a tentative plan. You will be much more efficient in your reading and your research if you have some idea of where your argument is headed. You can then search for evidence for the points in your tentative plan while you are reading and researching. As you gather evidence, those points that still lack evidence should guide you in your research.
Remember, though, that your plan may need to be modified as you critically evaluate your evidence. Though convenient, the common method of jotting down your notes consecutively on paper is far from ideal.
The problem is that your points remain fixed on paper. Here are three alternatives that provide greater flexibility:. When you are researching, write down every idea, fact, quotation, or paraphrase on a separate index card.
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A useful alternative involves using both white and coloured cards. When you come up with a point that you think may be one of the main points in your outline, write it at the top of a coloured card. Put each supporting note on a separate white card, using as much of the card as necessary.
When you feel ready, arrange the coloured cards into a workable plan. Some of the points may not fit in. If so, either modify the plan or leave these points out. In a Rogerian argument explained in pages that follow , your thesis should bring both sides of the issue together. Still, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to an argumentative thesis statement. In this paper, I will persuade you to vote for candidates who support education reform.
Organizing an Essay
Because our education system is in need of reform, we should vote for candidates who are willing to make the necessary changes. Please give us your feedback! Enter the username or e-mail you used in your profile. A password reset link will be sent to you by email. Argumentative Thesis As explained in Research , not all essays will require an explicitly stated thesis, but most argumentative essays will. Your thesis statement should be one to two sentences. Your thesis statement should clearly present the main idea of your essay and make some kind of assertion even if that assertion is about bringing two sides together.
Writing an Introduction
Instead, it should just present your assertion. For example, a thesis like this makes an announcement:. Writing Lab Navigation open all close all. Sign up.