This post is from the 30-day reflective writing series I made for Academic Writing Month (November 2018). For background on the series and links to all the videos, visit this page. To turn on subtitles: On a computer, hover at the bottom of the video window to make the row of icons appear; click on the “settings” icon (which looks like a cog), and select “Subtitles.” On a phone, the “subtitles” icon is in the bottom right corner of the screen.
A book- or article-length argument is made up of nested mini-arguments, so we can talk about argument structure on three levels: macro, meso, and micro. In a book, for example, each chapter, section, and paragraph functions as a mini-argument within the larger argument. A distinct structural logic applies to each one of these nested arguments. Underlying every effective argument is some intuitively recognizable logic.
We can strategize structure by analyzing and planning revisions to an existing draft, or by outlining and mapping out a draft that has yet to be written. Both forms of structural strategizing — planning specific structural revisions to a draft and planning out the structure of a draft before we write it — can save a lot of time and effort in the writing process. A little structural thinking can go a long way.
Three examples of structural logics are chronological, spatial, and rhetorical. As you take some time today to reflect on the structure of your whole argument or one of the nested arguments within it, consider what kind of logic is ordering the argument. If you aren’t sure, now is a great opportunity to think about what kind of structural logic the material is “telling” you to use.