Sometimes you may find yourself arguing things you don’t necessarily believe. That’s totally fine—you don’t actually have to wholeheartedly believe in what you’re arguing in order to construct a compelling argument.
However, if you have a free choice of topic, it’s a good idea to pick something you feel strongly about. There are two key components to a good argumentative essay: a strong stance, and an assortment of evidence. If you’re interested and feel passionate about the topic you choose, you’ll have an easier time finding evidence to support it, but it’s the evidence that’s most important.
So, to choose a topic, think about things you feel strongly about, whether positively or negatively. You can make a list of ideas and narrow those down to a handful of things, then expand on those ideas with a few potential points you want to hit on.
For example, say you’re trying to decide whether you should write about how your neighborhood should ban weed killers, that your school’s lunch should be free for all students, or that the school day should be cut by one hour. To decide between these ideas, you can make a list of three to five points for each that cover the different evidence you could use to support each point.
For the weed killer ban, you could say that weed killer has been proven to have adverse impacts on bees, that there are simple, natural alternatives and that weeds aren’t actually bad to have around. For the free lunch idea, you could suggest that some students have to go hungry because they can’t afford lunch, that funds could be diverted from other places to support free lunch, and that other items, like chips or pizza, could be sold to help make up lost revenue. And for the school day length example, you could argue that teenagers generally don’t get enough sleep, that you have too much homework and not enough time to do it, and that teenagers don’t spend enough time with their families.
You might find as you make these lists that some of them are stronger than others. The more evidence you have and the stronger you feel that that evidence is, the better the topic. Of course, if you feel that one topic may have more evidence but you’d rather not write about it, it’s okay to pick another topic instead. When you’re making arguments, it can be much easier to find strong points and evidence if you feel passionate about our topic than if you don’t.
How to Pick a Good Topic
- Choosing a topic that everyone is talking about makes writing an argument essay easier.
- Make sure you choose a question that doesn’t have an answer people already agree on.
- Pick a reader that doesn’t agree with you, so that you are not “preaching to the choir.”
- It also helps if the topic is something everyone has an opinion about: this will make it easier to get examples to back up your essay, either from articles or from people you interview.
- Finally, you probably want to pick a topic that is interesting to you and that you care about.
What Topics Not to Pick
Steer clear of overused topics like abortion, gun control, and the death penalty. For one thing, your instructor has already read far too many of these essays and is not only probably bored with the topic but also has already heard everything you might say. Moreover, although those may seem like easy topics, they really aren’t, because most people are set in their ways about these issues and it is hard to think of an argument that might change their minds.