Appendix 34: Arguing Essay Workshop

Writer's Name:

Writer: What are your main concerns about your draft at this point? What are its weaknesses?

Reader's Name:

Reader: Read your partner's essay carefully, without commenting. Then answer the following questions as thoroughly as possible.


  1. Describe below how the writer leads into his/her essay? Does it effectively engage and satisfy you as a reader? Why or why not?

  3. Mark and label the writer's thesis. In this thesis, what overall claim is he or she making? If you can't find an overall claim, this is a problem. If you can, is this claim clearly debatable? Specifically, who would be opposed?

  5. How does the writer's topic relate to our course topic? Comment on this below, and be sure to tell the writer if there ISN'T a recognizable connection to the course topic.
  6. Consider how the writer could focus the thesis more narrowly. For example, could the focus be narrowed down to a particular school, city, incident, court case, musical group, etc? If so, make this suggestion to the writer.

  8. Based on your reading of this essay, write down the audience which you believe the writer intends to address. Now ask the writer who the intended audience is. Does this audience seem to make sense to you, given what you have read? If not, how could the essay be better oriented to--aimed at--the writer's intended audience? (Comment below.)

  10. Mark any passages of the essay where you notice the writer making appeals to his or her audience. What kind of appeal is each (appeal to reason, emotion, or character)? Is each appeal effective, given the audience? Why or why not

  12. Read the writer's thesis/claim again and then ask the question "Why should I believe this?" Then go through the essay and find the places where the writer seems to answer this question with his/her "reasons." Put each reason in brackets, then comment in the margins about whether or not you think it is an effective reason. (In other words, if you put yourself in the position of the intended audience, do you find each reason convincing? Why or why not? Write in the margins.)
  13. Look for places where the writer seems to bring in opposing perspectives ("the other side"), then mark each of these places with an "O" for opposition. Does he or she present these opposing reasons fairly and refute them effectively with his or her own reasons or evidence? Comment in the margins about how the writer deals with the opposition.

  15. Look back at each reason and make sure that it is supported by sufficient, credible, and convincing evidence. Put an "E?" beside any point that you think needs to be better supported with evidence.
  16. Mark any places where the writer fails to document his/her use of sources appropriately. Make sure that there is a Works Cited page at the end of this essay.

  18. Answer the writer's question(s) in the space below.
  19. What ONE element of this essay would you recommend the writer focus on for revision?