Analyzing the ProblemExplore What You Know About the Problem. Figure out what you know now about the problem and what you still need to find out by jotting down answers to the questions below: • How do I know the problem exists and that it is serious? • What could cause a problem like this? • Who suffers from the problem? What evidence of it have I seen or experienced myself? • Who, if anyone, would benefit from not changing the way things work now?
Defining the ProblemWrite a paragraph or two describing the problemfor your readers. Be as specific and vivid in yourexplanation as possible given the information youcurrently have. Writing a very rough draft of thispart of your essay should help clarify whatadditional information you will need.
Identifying Your Possible ReadersIn a few sentences, explore your readers. In addition to yourinstructor and classmates, think about writing to people who areaffected by the problem or those in a position to take action tosolve it. The following questions will help you develop anunderstanding of your readers:• How informed are my readers likely to be about the problem? Have they shown any awareness of it?• Why would my readers care about solving this problem?• Have my readers supported any other proposals to solve this problem? If so, what do those proposals have in common with mine?• What values and concerns do my readers and I share that could bring us together to solve the problem?
Listing Possible SolutionsIt usually helps to consider several possible solutions beforefocusing on one solution, so problem solving requires creativity.Use the following questions to help you make a list of creativesolutions you could consider for your essay:Can you adapt a solution that has already been tried or proposedfor related problems?• What smaller, more manageable aspect of the larger problemcould you solve?• Could re-imagining the goal help you make fundamentalchanges?• Could the problem be solved from the bottom up instead of fromthe top down?• Could an ongoing process help solve the problem?
Choosing the Most Promising SolutionIn a sentence or two, describe the solution youwant to explore further. You cannot know forcertain whether you will be able to construct aconvincing argument to support this solution, butyou should choose a solution that you feelmotivated to pursue.
Explain Why It Would Solve the Problem.Write for a few minutes explaining why you think thissolution could solve the problem. Forexample, would it eliminate one or more causes? change people’s attitudes? re-imagine the objective? reduce anxiety and tension?
Show Why It Is Possible. Write for a few minutes explainingwhy people could agree to put thesolution into effect. For example,what would it cost them in time ormoney?
Explain How It Could Be Implemented. Write down the major stages or stepsnecessary to carry out your solution. Thislist of steps will provide an early test ofwhether your solution can, in fact, beimplemented.
Plan Follow-Up Research. Add notes about the kinds of information you think would help make your argument convincing for your readers and where you think you can find this information.
Anticipate Objections.Write a few sentences responding to the followingobjections you think are most likely: • We can’t afford it. • It would take too long. • People would not do it. • Too few would benefit. • You would benefit personally. • We already tried that, with unsatisfactory results.
Plan Follow-Up Research. Add notes about the kinds of information you think would help make your counterargument convincing for your readers and where you think you can find this information.
Considering Alternative Solutions List two or three alternative solutions that othershave proposed or tried. You may have discoveredthese alternatives during interviews or in your libraryresearch. You do not have to list every solution thathas been mentioned, but you should include themost popular or serious alternatives. If you includeonly obviously weak solutions in yourargument, your credibility will be harmed and youcould be accused of committing the straw manfallacy, which involves directing yourcounterargument against an alternative that nobodytakes seriously anyway.
Developing your evaluation of alternative solutions Write a paragraph for each alternative solution you think youshould include in your argument. Describe the alternativesolution fairly, quoting supporters if possible. Then work out thereasons you believe the alternative solution would not be feasible, would not solve the problem, would not be approved, would be hard to implement, or would be too costly, disruptive, or time-consuming to put into effect.
A Readable Plana forecast of the argumentkey words introduced in the thesis and forecasting statementtopic sentences introducing paragraphs or groups ofparagraphsrepeated use of key words and synonyms throughout theessay, particularly in topic sentencesclear transitional words and phrasesheadings that explicitly identify different sections of the essayvisuals, including charts that present information in an easy-to-read format
HomeworkWrite: finish the writing from the presentation for today.Write one or more sentences to serve as your tentativethesis statement. In most essays proposing solutions toproblems, the thesis statement is a concise announcementof the solution. Think about how emphatic you should makethe thesis and whether you should forecast your reasons.