A Short Argument, A Simple Checklist

Simple Checklist for Short Arguments
This worksheet helps writers develop a strong argument

This semester I’m serving as a co-instructor for a course on climate change at Tulane University. My role is to expose students to ways of using text to advance personal and social objectives, of harnessing narratives to confront truth, and of using writing as an agent of cultural transformation.

It’s easy for any writer, new or experienced, to become overwhelmed by the intricacies of such a complex topic, so I developed this worksheet to help the students write strong, persuasive short essays.

Before you begin to write, you should be able to say the following out loud:

I’m writing [ form ] for [ readers ] about [ topic ]. I believe [ thesis ] about this because [ examples ]. This matters because [ reason ]. So, [ conclusion ].


Use this checklist to fill in the blanks:

The form

  • Journalism
  • Opinion-editorial
  • Scholarship
  • Personal essay
  • Creative nonfiction
  • Other:

The readers

  • Lay readers
  • Political leaders
  • Like-mindeds
  • The opposition
  • Scholars
  • Other:

The topic (in a few words)

My thesis (in one or two sentences)

Three examples that support my thesis


Reasoning; why this matters

My conclusion

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