Writing Critically and Writing A Clear Argument

Writing critically is very important in academic writing. In your English classes, you will be asked to write at least one argumentative paper that will ask you to defend one side or another. Critical writing can be broken down. To put it simply, critical writing evaluates and analyzes more than one source in order to develop an argument. This is different than descriptive writing which describes what something is like. However, description will be involved in your critical writing along with an explanation.

There should be a good balance between analysis and description. Critical thinking will make your writing clearer and more concise. This allows you to make well-thought-out arguments in a shorter amount of time with more success. Being clear will increase readability. This will allow for a wider audience and a more enjoyable read. When writing, sometimes it is difficult to put your thoughts on paper without sounding crazy. Being told to write more clearly is a lot easier than actually writing clearly. Therefore, this is going to give you a few tips and pointers on becoming a better writer. 

At this point, you have heard a lot about how to think critically, cognitive biases, and how to escape the trap Groupthink creates. Now, you will be able to write critically. When you are writing critically, you’ll be able to word your thoughts better, and your paragraphs will be more useful – it won’t just be about word counts anymore, but the word counts will be met regardless.  

The following is a series of questions you can ask. These can be applied to writing and editing your writing: 

Is your idea/argument a good or bad one?  
Is my argument valid and defensible? Is it the opposite? 

We have talked about how to determine whether an argument is valid, but you also need to be able to defend your argument with premises and supporting details. If you cannot do this, your point of view will be easy to poke holes in and will collapse like a house of cards. 

Is my position on the issue rational and reasonable? 

Reason is something we have already talked about quite a bit. It is important because it will justify your position. 

Do I deal with the complexity of the situation or do I only utilize clichés and stereotypes to make my point?  

Stereotypes are not foolproof; therefore, they should not be used in an argument because there are many instances where they will not be true. The same goes for clichés. Clichés are overused and only occur in a perfect situation. 

Do I touch deeper points, or do I only scrape the surface when talking about my topic? 

Go into detail! Details are so important, and the more valid support you have for your argument, the better. Don’t be repetitive, but present as many different details as you can, especially in the first draft of your writing. You should strive to understand what you are writing about and encourage your readers to understand what they are reading. 

Do I address the other points of view properly? 

Always consider the counterarguments. These are going to test your own viewpoint, and those who support the counterarguments are going to be looking for things that will take your argument down. 

Do I question my own ideas and test them for validity? 

Question all of the evidence you find and make sure it is supported by things like experiments and observation. If there are surveys involved in your argument, make sure the pool of people surveyed is an accurate proportion. 

Do I have specific goals in mind with this piece? 


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