A Claim of Value Essay is a form of persuasive rhetoric which argues that something has value, either morally or esthetically. It must be supported by referring to a known standard or by establishing an agreed-upon standard. It also has much in common with other persuasive essays, and by following some basic guidelines you will be able to compose an essay that expresses your values and opinions in an effective, respectful manner.
Choose a topic. Look at issues involving your school or community, such as tuition hikes, campus parking, or residential life. Read the news to see what issues are affecting the nation and the world. You can also check web sites like ProCon.org, which present 2 or 3 sides to current controversial subjects. (See References 1)
Write a thesis statement. This is a single sentence that presents your topic and states your position. As in any use of persuasive rhetoric, your thesis statement must be clear and arguable, meaning that a reasonable person could disagree with you. Don't be shy. Take a stand and be ready to defend it.
Research your arguments. Effective types of evidence include statistics, quotes from experts, appeals to history, examples, and predictions. Stay away from Logical Fallacies that may alienate your readers and sabotage your claim. (See References 2)
Build an outline. Write your thesis statement at the top of the page and list your arguments underneath, paying careful attention to the order. You might lead off with your strongest argument and conclude with your weakest. Many writers use their strongest argument last, for greater effect.
Compose the essay. Lead off with a hook, such as a particularly strong statistic or moving anecdote. Your thesis statement should never be the first sentence; it works best placed at the end of your opening paragraph. In the conclusion, revisit the thesis and end with an appeal to your readers' emotions.
Proofread very carefully. Read the essay to find mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and word choice. Don't rely on the spell checking feature of your word processor: it will not catch many of the common mistakes, such as the incorrect usage of "their," "there," and "they're." Reading the essay backwards is an excellent way to catch such mistakes.
Tips & Warnings
- It is a good idea to concede a point to the opposing viewpoint, and then offer a refutation. This shows respect for your readers while strengthening your own position.
- Since you are claiming that something has value, it's also a good idea to examine your own values and beliefs. Where did they come from? How might other peoples' experiences cause them to have different values?
- The tone of any persuasive essay is extremely important. No one likes to be yelled at or mocked. Save emotional responses for the essay's conclusion.
- Make sure you understand whatever format your essay is supposed to use: MLA, APA, or Chicago. These all have very strict rules regarding the documenting of sources.
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