On essay exams, in papers and speeches, many people tend to list random assertions or factoids because they've never been taught to build a fully developed, cogent and coherent line of argument. In order to build a fully developed line of argument--after breaking the topic down into its natural parts (like a clever butcher!), make an assertion, support it, make a transition and move on. Be a lean, mean, writing machine!
Fully developed lines of support always make the following "moves":
Exemplification: Provide the reader with a specific quotation from the text under discussion
Elaboration: Discuss how the quote captures the essence of your assertion.
Illustration: Here is where creativity comes in. Think analogically so you can illustrate the point you are making and paint a picture in the mind of the reader. (Warning: make sure your illustration illuminates--as opposed to obfuscates!)
Application: Always conclude each line of argument with a sentence or two spelling out the link between your analysis and the question at hand. There is a danger common to all such writing and speaking: We often assume that the audience understands a given point because we have ourselves been so absorbed in the topic. So, to avoid this pitfall, make the application move, make a transition and move on to your next point.
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