10 Aug 2013

How to Write an Argument: AFOREST


Raise your grade with these top tips for writing to argue. Scroll down to find out what AFOREST stands for, with definitions and examples.
  1. Ingredients: 
    1. Paragraphs 
    2. Connectives 
    3. Sentence Starts 
    4. Punctuation 
    5. Skilful Techniques (AFOREST) 
    6. Good Vocabulary

1. Use Paragraphs Well
  • Your first paragraph should have an interesting first sentence. This could be a rhetorical question, a command, or a surprising fact. For example: Get off that sofa right now! [command] Teens' lazy lifestyles are sapping their willpower and bloating their bodies. [alliteration, shocking statements] If a quarter of all teens are currently obese, what can we expect in the future? [rhetorical question]
  • Each paragraph should deal with one idea in detail. Write a heading or title for each paragraph - in your head, or on your plan. Make sure you explain each idea thoroughly, with specific evidence and examples, before you move onto the next.
  • change paragraph every 3/4 sentences.
  • If you forget to include paragraphs, add them in at the end like this //
  • The final paragraph should stand out. Appeal to the reader, use a rhetorical question or some other dramatic technique. Leave the reader with something to think about.
2. Make Good Connections
'And', 'but', 'also' and 'because' are the most common.
More complex connectives: which, that, who, as a result, because of this, at the same time, however. These will let you show ideas in more detail, explore the reasons things happen and make strong connections.
Get the complete list of complex connectives here.

3. Start Sentences in a Different Way
-ing start: 
According to expert, Bob Expert, …
Looking to the past, we find...
Eating more, exercising less is creating the perfect storm.
Connective start:
Because of this…
Despite this…
However…
Time start:
All of a sudden / Suddenly 
In recent years / For a long time / Since then / After / When / Then
After a few years / In a few years / Before this / After this / As a result of this
Adverb start:
Obviously, / Predictably, / Understandably, / Amazingly, / Unbelievably, / Shockingly, / Controversially, 

4. Use More Interesting Punctuation (Correctly and Skilfully)
  • Use semi colons
  • Use colons
  • Use dashes - like this - to separate out important information. Use them a bit like how you might use brackets.
  • Use quotation marks (speech marks) for anecdotes. Bob Smith, a well-known expert finds it difficult to explain: ‘even the research seems to point in six different directions.’ Steve Bobbs supports this view: ‘I also find it difficult to explain.’
  • Short sentences shock. So use short paragraphs! 


5. Use Skilful Writing Techniques: AFOREST

Alliteration 

Facts
These could be in the form of: anecdotes – personal experiences, quotation, research or historical information. Keep these brief at 1-2 sentences. Use statistics too. This is any fact with a number in it, including percentages. Either research these, or quote something made up but believable - e.g. two thirds of adults - not 64.5% of adults.

Opinion/wisdom 
Examples of opinion are 'it could be argued that', 'it may be', 'you could say', 'perhaps', 'it could be suggested that'.
Examples of wisdom = ‘it is’, 'these are', 'we should', 'we must'.

Rhetorical Question
This is a question with no answer used for dramatic effect. Or you can use hypophora,  which is a question + answer.

Emotive Language
This is positive or negative language, e.g. delectable, disgusting.
Not just for stories, and descriptions, similes and metaphors add colour and flair to your writing. Try some sensory language too. it works wonders, especially if you are aiming to persuade or argue. For example: Picture this, a teenager, crusted with crisp shards, their fat hand jammed so far into the packet of Pringles there's no guarantee they'll ever be able to get it out again, bloated and out of control.
Second example: Imagine waking up every day smelling the fresh morning air of the country, damp, brilliant grass and a gentle breeze lifting the edge of your tent.

Triplets / Rule of Three
This is a list of three, done for effect. For example, I came, I saw, I conquered. Alternatively, you can use a ‘Rule of Two’ where you contrast opposites for effect, ‘good and evil’, 'far and wide', 'now and forever'. 

Another effective technique (not included in AFOREST) is:
Inclusive language
This is where you include the reader or appeal to them, using 'you' or 'we'. For example: 'we have all', 'you may have seen', 'affects all of us', 'our future', etc. 


6. Use Better Vocabulary
Use formal and complex language, e.g. devastated (sad), overwhelming (difficult), produces (makes), appreciate (likes), vast (big), decided (chose), satisfied (happy), multiple (many), panicked (freaked out), it is (not it’s), we are (not we’re), they are (not they’re), explained (said), typically (usually). (clich├ęd).
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post.