Reviewing and Revising Your Connections
After drafting an argument you'll want take a step back and check the logic of its organization. You want to make sure that everything is connected and that every connection will make sense to an audience.
Analyze by Outlining
Chunk your argument into numbered sections: read through the text and place a number in the margin every time you change focus, even slightly. These changes may or may not come at regular intervals: one section might take three paragraphs while another takes only one. When you are finished, ask the following questions:
- Do similar points come up in different sections? If so, put them together.
- Are any sections only a few sentences long? Are they relevant? If so, expand them; if not, cut them out.
- Can you define the relationship each section has to the position being argued? How is each one relevant? Look at your revised argument and create a list of reasons that connect each section to the position being argued. Those that don't should be cut. Save this list, the reasons you have identified will make excellent transitions between argument sections.
- Can you explain why section #2 follows section #1 and so on? If not consider how sections might be moved around so that you have a clear reason for why each one follows another. Make another list, including these reasons. Consider using them as transitions between argument sections as well.
Get Some Peer-Review
Have a friend or several friends read through your argument. Ask them to mark where they get lost or are not sure of your point or where you are going next. These are places where rearrangement or clearer transitions are probably necessary. Also, try reading the argument aloud, to yourself and your friends. Frequently, when you hear an argument out loud, you can pinpoint where its logic doesn't add up. Changes can then be made.
Cut and Paste
Cut and paste. Play around with your organizational structure. Literally cut your paper into paragraphs and then make piles out of those which have things in common. If only part of a paragraph does, then cut some more. Save the leftovers in a separate pile. What do the pieces in each pile have in common? Construct a title for each pile based on the reason: Finally, ask yourself: what is the relationship between each pile: How are they related? Don't be afraid to shuffle them around and look at them in different positions. This will help you order the sections of your argument when pasting it back together. Look at your pile of left over pieces to see if they belong. If they do, consider expanding them so their relevance is made clear. If not, leave them out. Remember, throwing stuff out is not a sign of failure; it's an integral part of rewriting.