Tip: Read Some!
Excellent examples of argument writing can be found in newspapers. If you search papers such as The Independent and The Guardian online, you will find that they have 'Opinion' sections. The Times is brilliant too, but you have to subscribe to access it.
Start to read a variety of these. Think about the key points the writer is making on their chosen topic (summarise what they are saying). Look for language devices that the writer has used to argue their points: can you see any rhetorical questions? Rule of three? Second person address? Consider how they have structured their writing: can you pick out any short sentences or paragraphs that impact on the reader?
The more you read good writing, the better writer you will become yourself. Remember, GCSE English exams will have a non-fiction element. They will expect you to both read and write non-fiction. Therefore, getting into the habit of reading some good quality non-fiction in your own time will put you at an advantage.
Tip: English is about skills, not truth
This statement applies specifically to the non-fiction writing section! I'm not encouraging you to embrace lies and deceit.
Your examiner is expecting to see that you understand how to create and support an effective piece of non-fiction writing.
You will face a question that asks you to tackle something random, like 'Write a letter to your local council arguing that more should be done to tackle rubbish in your area."
You are not expected to know lots about the issue or have plenty of facts about it to hand. You need to MAKE IT UP.
First, plan your points. You will need to come up with about 4-5 points about the issue that will create the structural backbone of your piece of writing.
1. The area looks untidy and ugly.
2. The amount of rubbish is dangerous for children.
3. Residents should be encouraged to recycle.
4. Rubbish harms wildlife.
5. A cleaner local area would attract more people to visit.
Each of my points will become a topic sentence that will then be padded out into a paragraph by my entirely made up supporting evidence. This bit is where you get your features in.
Great language features for arguing:
Second Person Address
Rule of Three
Facts and Statistics
These are just some of the key features that you can include in your writing.
I like this bit. Don't get too silly with it, but have some fun creating your evidence. Do this as you are writing; you won't have time to plan all your features in an exam.
Example of Point 4:
Furthermore, the amount of rubbish in our local area is very harmful for wildlife. Dr Ray Smith from the University of London said, "The population of song birds in this country has fallen by 45% in the last five years. Our studies indicate that this is because they are ingesting rubbish, such as cigarette ends, from our pavements." The results of his research clearly indicate the toxic effects of waste on our birds. Surely these distressing figures will prompt you to take action on reducing the waste dumped on the streets in our community?
Dr Ray and his study are entirely made up. I am trying to prove my point that rubbish harms the local wildlife and I am showing the examiner that I know expert opinions, statistics, emotive language, second person address and rhetorical questions are all devices that help me to argue. I will get ticks for making my writing appropriate to the purpose and audience and for using language devices.
Tip: Start with a scenario
I think a really effective way into an argument, or any non-fiction piece, is to get the reader to imagine a situation that is linked to the topic.
Imagine streets covered in waste. Imagine the stink of refuse as it is warmed by the sun. Imagine the fear you would feel encountering large rats, drawn to our community by the extensive availability of discarded food. If the rubbish in our area is not dealt with soon, this is the situation that all local people will be facing.
You, as our council, need to take action on the refuse!