Six Part Oratory: Essential Essay Elements

The Introduction (Exordium) – The Reason for Relevance:  Think like a storyteller Your introduction must grab your reader.  Exordium means “the web,” so your mission is to ensnare your reader’s attention.  Like a storyteller who introduces a scene, characters, and conflict, you must show the reader that the problem or controversy you will discuss is a relevant, timely issue in the real world.  Like a storyteller, begin by showing rather than telling.  Begin with something concrete:  an anecdote, a detailed fact or statistic, or a specific example from your research.  The introduction is your first impression, so it is imperative that you establish that your subject is a significant issue and that you are a credible writer.

-Why do I care about my subject, and how can I show my reader that it matters?

The Context (Narration) – The Context of the Controversy:  Think like a journalist  

Before you launch into your claim, it is important to think like a journalist.  Step back and look at the issue from an objective point of view.  Define key terms.  Give the reader a bit of history on your topic and enough background to understand the context of your argument.  Make an effort to fairly represent the different ways that various people see this issue and why it is important to them.

-What’s the backstory of my argument, and why is it relevant today?

The Thesis (Partition) – The Architecture of the Argument:  Think like an architect

Your next step is to present the blueprint of your argument, your thesis, to the reader.  A soundly structured argument needs a clear claim that is buttressed by lucid reasoning.  Think like an architect who is drafting a blueprint that will provide the builders the vision they need to build a solidly constructed building.  Like a blueprint, your thesis will clearly reveal the big picture of your argument as well as its individual parts.

-What is my claim and the reasons that support it?

The Evidence (Confirmation) – The Explanation of the Evidence: Think like an attorney

Having laid a firm foundation for your argument, you are now ready to launch into presenting your evidence.  Here you should think like an attorney making a case before a jury.  Present your proof, the specific evidence that shows your argument is valid.  As you present your evidence, make sure to explain its relevance to your claim and your reasons.  Don’t assume the jury understands the evidence; instead, anticipate their questions and explain the underlying assumptions that tie your evidence to your reasons.  Use facts, statistics, specific examples, quotations from experts, and as much detailed proof as you can to make your case.

-What evidence proves that my claim is valid?

The Counterclaims (Refutation) – The Consideration of Counterclaims:  Think like a general

A fully developed argument needs more than just one side.  It needs to present and address objections that reasonable people might have.  Competent generals know when to advance and when to retreat.  They know that any successful campaign requires strategically analysing their position from the enemy’s point of view.  Seeing the battlefield from multiple points of view makes them better prepared for success in battle.  Successful writers present the strongest objections to their arguments and then rebut them or concede as appropriate.

-What are the strongest objections that a reader might have to my argument, and how will I answer those objections?

The Conclusion (Peroration) – The Finish With a Flash:  Think like a salesperson

In your conclusion reiterate your key points, but don’t just repeat them. Consider using an emotional appeal that will stay with your reader, something specific that will linger in your reader’s mind.  Like a good salesperson, a good writer knows that readers think with their heads but also with their hearts.  The best conclusions, therefore, make a reader think but also feel.  One of the best techniques is to conclude by reminding your reader of the specific, concrete scene you painted in your introduction; this brings the reader full circle, creating a feeling of having completed a satisfying journey

-How can I make my reader think but also feel?


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