Determine if your material is the sort that should sneak up on readers to win their trust or overwhelm them with the sustained march of topic vigor. I wrote an essay about an old California beachside amusement park that alternated paragraphs (and sometimes sentences) about the checkered history of the park with paragraphs of my own wide-eyed history of teenage entanglements there. That old/new juxtaposition gave a flow to the piece that worked much better than “Here’s the Pike’s history, and then here’s what it was like when I was a kid.”
Critical reading is a big part of understanding argument. Although some of the material you read will be very persuasive, do not fall under the spell of the printed word as authority. Very few of your instructors think of the texts they assign as the last word on the subject. Remember that the author of every text has an agenda, something that he or she wants you to believe. This is OK—everything is written from someone’s perspective—but it’s a good thing to be aware of. For more information on objectivity and bias and on reading sources carefully, read our handouts on evaluating print sources and reading to write .