We can still use many techniques from Classical Rhetoric when we argue in writing. The two presented here are Status and Appeals. The first helps you clarify your issue and the second shows you how to argue through organizing and addressing readers’ values.
Status in Latin means “a stand.” Many students in high school write book reports, but these writing exercises don’t prepare them to take a stand. Classical rhetoricians like Cicero and Aristotle posed the following 4 questions to work through before writing:
Will you get your paper written just with these questions? No, but if you begin here, you will clarify what you are going to argue, and that leads to a high quality paper.
In ancient Greece and Rome, orators spent a great amount of time on status and on figuring out which of the appeals below best fit the subject. They are classified by the type of organization they provide. This list is taken from Four Worlds of Writing (2nd ed.) by Janice M. Lauer et al.
Persuasive writing is the most challenging type of writing because you have to answer arguments sometimes (called rebuttals). If you want to argue something commonly held, you can use the above rational appeals, and you can, if you have quotes, fully quote the opposition before you argue it. Allow yourself to point out at least one valid claim the opposition has before you argue it. Arguing without doing so makes your argument unbalanced and your thinking ungenerous.
Imagine your reader after he or she has read your paper: what do you want to have happen (e.g. an A on your paper, agreement with your position, some type of action taken that you’ve proposed)? What do you have to do in your writing to evoke that response?
If your audience is a college professor seeking to enhance your upper-division writing skills in a WAC course, I imagine that that professor will want the following things: