The Argument Essay’s Outline Structure
This is a clear, condensed statement of your overall viewpoint on the essay topic or question. This statement is then slightly expanded by providing a succinct summation (i.e. a kind of list) of what will form the main points of your argument. These early few sentences together act to provide the major ‘signposts’ that show the general direction of the essay and its argument.
- To provide an account of the so-called big picture of the text - and thus to set an authoritative tone that suggests you know the text well - the opening paragraph also needs to have a highly condensed account of the text’s ‘story’ and ‘circumstance’ - but one that is tightly focused on the needs of the essay title or question.
- The opening paragraph sometimes also needs to include brief details of the author’s context, but only if entirely relevant and important to the essay question.
- Notice how, all of the time, you are avoiding waffle and generalised comment, instead keeping all you write tightly focused on the needs of the essay title or question.
A series of paragraphs follows with each being developed around a single important and wholly relevant point.
- Far, far too often essay paragraphs open in ways that do not show that the student is in some important way clearly and directly developing the essay’s ‘answer’ or argument. This kind of ‘off-target’ opening leads to waffle and generalization and lost marks. Try hard to avoid this by opening each and every paragraph with a topic sentence - one that contains the main argument of the paragraph.
- The point around which each paragraph is based needs to provide justification for the thesis statement given in the opening paragraph. The points must do no more than develop the argument and each point must be supported with evidence, often in the form of a quotation taken from the text, along with an explanation of how this evidence ‘works’ both as an effective use of language and as a contribution to the text.
This is a restatement of the opening argument, a listing of the main points and a comment on the wider implications of the findings. If you need help of Essay Writing Service, so you can choose Writing-Expert.com essay services for writing your essay. Writing-Expert.com have a great team of professional essay writers.
It will help to think back to the imaginary classroom situation. What would follow on from the highly condensed ‘answer’ you gave to your teacher? Your teacher might say, ‘Good, that’s a fair view to hold - but why do you think that? Show me from the text itself what made you think that way.’ In the written essay, you’ll need to be providing a whole lot more ‘evidence’ mainly in the form of quotations each one itself supported by a commentary derived from an analysis of the quotation’s literary and linguistic content.
However, with a central and guiding argument starting off and flowing through the entire essay, it now becomes much easier to search the text for aspects and quotations that will provide good quality evidence to support the essay’s points.
- In general, you should be aiming for one brief but apt quotation per paragraph.
- Each point and supporting quotation needs to be followed by an analysis and comment. Some teachers call this the PEE (point > example > explanation) or PQC System. This is needed to explain how and why the aspect of the text or the quotation ‘works’ within the context of the essay question and the originally stated argument.
- Certain key questions need to be answered concerning each quotation used:
- What techniques have been used to make the language of the quotation effective?
This means discussing the writer’s methods, e.g. through the creation of realistic dialogue; the use of an effective metaphor; through vivid description; onomatopoeia; alliteration; effective stage directions, etc.