Writing Assignment: Four Paragraphs

by Randy Murray on July 13, 2012

To make a clear argument all you may need is four clear paragraphs.

Yes, there are complex arguments with lots of evidence to produce, but most arguments can be boiled down to four paragraphs.

In the first paragraph you introduce your subject and the basic argument. In the second you detail the issue(s). In the third you lay out a clear resolution. And in your forth and final paragraph you summarize what you’ve said and point the reader to more information, if necessary.

Condensing your argument to the four-paragraph length is an excellent way to test your ideas, as well. I write many business papers professionally, some of them quite long (the average white paper is twelve to twenty pages). But I always start with a clear and concise executive summary with a complete distillation of the argument.

For today’s assignment, take a subject that you are passionate about and write four paragraphs to argue your point. If you’re first draft results in run on paragraphs or more than four, examine your argument and try again.

For bonus points hand it to someone you suspect may not agree with you and have them read it and give you their reaction.

If you need a subject, here’s a sample topic: Why libraries will remain vital for the foreseeable future.


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