Writing - Using Skills Learned in Debates

Writing for Business or Academic Purposes

Write freely - don't edit too much, don't doubt, just write to learn, to express
Writing should have a purpose - don't write too much, don't write too little


  • Brainstorm your topic
  • Ask questions – what is the purpose of this letter/essay/message? What do I want to achieve? What do I need to prove? What does my audience expect?
  • Organize your ideas, prioritize them – create an outline
  • Check outline for completeness - are you saying everything you want to say? It is too much? Is it unclear?


  • Write draft – write the whole letter/essay as a draft, not just one paragraph
  • Free-write – don't keep stopping to correct yourself. People spend too much time trying to create the perfect start because then you may never get to the middle. Don't assume you know exactly what you want to say before you write everything, or exactly how you want to say it.


  • Edit for fulfillment of your objective – are you doing what you are supposed to do?
  • Edit for organization – are the ideas organized in priority? Does your introduction give a clear idea of what to expect? If someone only reads the conclusion, can they get a clear idea of what you have achieved in your paper? Make a reverse outline – take the key idea from each paragraph and write it down as an outline and see if it makes sense to you. Also, consider creating different sections and using bullets or lists.
  • Edit for transitions – does each paragraph and section connect to each other? Use transition words (however, therefore, in conclusion, secondly..) - http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/574/02/
  • Edit for word accuracy – does this word really say what I want to say?
  • Edit for word economy – can I reduce a sentence into one word? http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/wordines.html
  • Proofread – spelling and grammar


  • Use references – do no plagiarize! It is okay to use other people's work, as long as you give credit for it
  • Use proper capitalization
  • Use a consistent style (font, margin). The focus should be easy to read, not attractiveness. Don't forget to number pages, especially if the document is long.

Some common mistakes

  • the structure of your message does not need to follow the structure of your source material/subject (historical, book review, movie review)
  • don't write to fill the space
  • don't repeat yourself – you will encourage your reader to ignore you

To improve you writing skills

  • Write!
  • Read!
  • Take time to edit

Relation to Debate

  • You are required to have an outline
  • You have to form clear ideas
  • The argument structure is similar to paragraph structure
  • Themes for a speech are similar to themes for an essay
  • Debate discipline helps you form clear ideas to write
  • Writing is a longer more detailed process. There is less direct emotional expression, the medium is less rich.