Argumenative Writing: Avoiding the Rant

Argumenative Writing: Avoiding the Rant

As with any other debate, argumentative writing can walk a fine line between calm claims and angry demands. Think of arguments you sometimes overhear or debates you see. Who is more likely to win you over, the person who stays calm and fair, or the one that screams and insults anyone who disagrees? Staying calm can be difficult when you are particularly passionate about a subject or issue, and it can be tough to reject the opposition’s points without passing judgment.

The following suggestions can help you stay composed, reasonable, and objective in argumentative writing.

  • Avoid emotional attachments.
    • Strong emotions can lead to rants, which may make it more difficult to persuade your reader. Stay calm and collected, and emotionally distance yourself from the topic if possible.
  • Steer clear of judgments.
    • If the opposition feels judged for disagreeing with you, they will be less likely to listen to your side of the argument. If a reader encounters judgmental statements in argumentative writing, the argument might be dismissed for appearing biased and unprofessional.
  • Aim for practical word choice.
    • There is a difference between strong word choice and harsh word choice. Harsh words cross into judgmental territory and can potentially cause readers to reject or ignore your argument.
    • To write more objectively, choose topic-related terms carefully, and cover the counterargument fairly. For more on counterarguments, see the Stone Writing Center’s (SWC) handout on this topic.
  • Do not give ultimatums.
    • When debating issues, people with an opposing viewpoint rarely respond well to ultimatums. Do not back your reader into a corner where there are only two choices, especially if you purposefully make one option more unappealing than the other.
    • Argumentative writing about complex issues involves evaluating multiple, possible solutions.
  • Present a fair solution.
    • In relation to the previous point, there is almost always a third (or fourth) solution that can appeal to both sides of an issue. Sometimes you do not need to convince your opposition to entirely embrace your views; rather, you just need those with opposing views to meet you in the middle (i.e., admit you have a fair point) to be successful.

While drafting argumentative writing, and especially when revising argumentative writing, keep an eye out for instances where your argument turns into a rant. If you spot any, remember that you do not necessarily have to rewrite everything. Pinpoint exactly what makes your argument seem like a rant and revise these areas to be calm, objective, and reasonable for your reader.

Page last updated July 5, 2023.