Reviewing and Revising an Argument

Reviewing Your Position

One of the most common student remarks in argument drafting workshops is: "Now that I've written the whole paper, my position, or claim has changed." Be sure to take the time to review and revise your position statement so that it reflects the exact claim you support in your argument.

The Structure of Your Claim

After you've drafted your argument, you'll know if you're relying on cause/effect, "because" statements, or pro/con strategy. Make sure that the structure of your claim reflects the overall structure of your argument. For example, a first draft claim--"Fraternity hazing has serious negative effects on everyone involved"--can be revised to reflect the cause/effect reasoning in the rest of the argument-="because hazing causes psychological trauma to victims and perpetrators, fraternity hazing is much more serious than an initiation prank."

Word Choice in Your Claim

Quite often an early draft of a claim makes a broader or more general point than an argument can actually support or prove. As you revise, consider where you might limit your claim. Narrow the cases your claim applies to or state more precisely who is affected by a problem or how a solution can be implemented. Challenging each word in a claim is a good way to be sure that you've stated your claim as narrowly and as precisely as possible. Look also for loaded words that might carry negative connotations. Be sure to consider their effect on your target audience.

Your Claim as a Roadmap

An audience uses the claim to help anticipate what will appear in the rest of the argument. You want to revise your claim so that it makes the most sense in light of the argument that follows. Note obvious exceptions to your position right in the claim itself so that the audience understands exactly to what the claim applies. Continue revising your claim as you continue revising your argument so that it continues to function as a clear roadmap for the benefit of your audience.

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Introduction