Q3 Portfolios: Essential Question Argument

Prefatory note: Always refer back to the portfolio overview linked to here as we review your writing this week.

Mode of discourse: Argument writing

Revision prompt: Answer one or more of our unit’s essential questions in an argument of roughly 500 words.

The original preface to our study of the novel (click here to read it again) gave you this prompt:

Preface II: Essential Questions | Answer each of these in a paragraph or two. Focus on articulating your beliefs. Use specifics.

  1. Does power always corrupt?
  2. Is violence ever justified?
  3. At what point should a group stop an individual from doing what he wants?
  4. Does unmitigated evil exist, or does every evil character also contain some good?
  5. How do those closest to us affect our decisions?
  6. What does it mean to be truly alone? Can we survive when isolated?
  7. Is mankind ultimately self-destructive?

On 2/5 and 2/6, you wrote your initial answers to all seven questions; on 2/12, you chose one or more and wrote for 20-30 minutes about the research you had done. Your scores have been returned, along with brief feedback. Start with that spreadsheet:

Overall, you wrote limited responses that need a clear thesis and detailed support of that thesis. Use the DAMAGES+ guide to start, reading over the section on Meaning; then study the following notes as you revise. Remember to keep this under 500 words.

Revision #1: Thesis

Take a separate sheet of paper and place it on top of your timed draft. Without looking, write your thesis. What are you arguing? What is your central claim in this response? If you can’t remember, you need to start over from scratch: Only argue something that has a clear thesis that sticks with you.

Revision #2: Detail and development

Still on that separate sheet of paper: What evidence are you using to support your thesis? Can you list the details from your timed draft? If not, it may be that you didn’t have details in your timed draft; if that’s the case, you’ll know right away. Otherwise, it’s about two things:

  1. Quantity
  2. Quality

You need lots of details, and they need to be carefully chosen. Ask yourself if you’ve used details from literature, your personal life, or history; then ask yourself if you could use evidence from literature, your personal life, or history. Consider pop culture, too, including movies and TV shows. What works best to illustrate your thesis?

Revision #3: Arrangement

Simply put: How many paragraphs have you written, and how many should you include? This speaks to main ideas and focus as much as arrangement. If you write many paragraphs, why are you separating main ideas? Is one paragraph supporting your thesis in one way, and the next paragraph, in another? On the same separate sheet of paper, write out what each paragraph’s main idea is. If necessary, create an outline of your paragraphs, and then write the main idea of each.

You might also consider your arrangement within each paragraph, returning (if it helps) to the writing resources located here from Q1 and Q2.

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