a blog that covers reviews, travel logs and research infos etcetera etcetera: mumtaz.blogspot.com

Structures of Effective Arguments

This is a continuation of my review ‘The Art of Persuasion‘; a lecture series by Prof. Drout. He talks about five possible structures that can be used for an effective argument depending on the situation and topic. These five structures are as follows:

  1. Five-Paragraph Essay
  2. Sermon
  3. Inverted Pyramid
  4. Delayed Lede 
  5. Delayed Lede with Kicker

Five-Paragraph Essay
A five-paragraph essay is the most common form of formal arguments. It is composed of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

  • The introduction includes a thesis statement and tells the audiences why they should read or listen. 
  • The body part makes three big points each in a separate paragraph. 
  • The final conclusion gives a big picture of the essay; why it is important that your audience should accept your arguments 

This structure is mostly used in thesis and research articles. The five-paragraphs essay can be extrapolated to five-sections, five-chapters or five-telegraphs depending on the requirements. The bigger rhetoric point that Prof. Drout makes is:

When you use this structure, you communicate seriousness: It is the standard form of an academic essay, and people respond to it. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and it follows the “rule of three,” which is simply that people like things grouped into threes and they can remember them more easily.

A sermon is the thoroughly tested and polished form of effective arguments that has evolved over centuries.  It is composed of six-parts; an introduction, a protheme, an explanation of protheme, a real world story, moral of the story, and conclusion. The introduction is same as introduction in the five-paragraph essay. A protheme is a text from Bible, constitution, Quran, or Hadith that supports the thesis made in the first part. The final part is also similar to the five-paragraph’s conclusion but it can include blessing, prayers, slogans etc as well.

Inverted Pyramid
This is designed to organize all related facts of a story in the order of their importance. This format starts with answering the five Ws and  and H questions i.e. who, what , where, when, why and how. Mostly the news stories falls under this category. The audiences start reading the story and stop at any time depending on how much they want to know or interested in the topic.

Delayed Lede 
This is same as inverted pyramid but the answers to five Ws and an Hs do not come right in the beginning. The story starts with an illustrative introduction like a scene description and then answers of five Ws and an H are evolved.

Delayed Lede with Ticker
Same as previous one but story ends with a big answer or a remark that ties things up neatly. I think most of the suspense stories, fictions, novels falls in this category. Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi’s (احمد ندیم قاسمی) short Urdu story AalaaN (افسانہ: عالاں) is a perfect example of the Delayed Lede with Ticker structure.


One response to “Structures of Effective Arguments

  1. Anonymous February 17, 2012 at 6:23 am

    عالاں: اُس نے جیسے کائنات کا راز فاش کر دیا ۔

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