Your claim should be… • Contestable • Reasonable • Interpretive • Specific • Significant
Contestable • Your claim is your educated opinion on a topic. An effective claim will be one that you must argue over to prove. Can people disagree with you? If they can, then you have a good claim.
Contestable • Poor:Traffic in Tampa is a problem. • Better:Better public transportation would help reduce the traffic problems in Tampa.
Reasonable • Are you using the text as it is meant to be used? Or are you twisting the facts in a weird way that no one else sees to make your argument work? If people can agree with what your evidence means, then you have a good claim.
Reasonable • Poor:Othello is Shakespeare’s commentary on race in America because it was written during the Puritan days and he wanted to warn us of the racism that was to come to America. • Better: The racism in Othello is similar to the racism that was present in America many years later.
Interpretive • Are you just describing a situation? Are you just stating what evidence is there? Or are you telling your reader what that evidence means? If you’re telling your reader what all this evidence means, then you have a good claim.
Interpretive • Poor: After earning $408 million, The Hunger Games was a successful movie. • Better:Lion’s Gate Films, the maker of the movie The Hunger Games was unsure if its success, but after earning $408 million, it must feel comfortable because it has already begun making the rest of the novels into movies.
Specific • Believe it or not, but specific claims are easier to prove. If your topic is too broad, there is too much to prove, and you never prove your point. If your claim tells your reader exactly what you are trying to prove, then you have a good claim.
Specific • Poor: Heath Ledger was considered one of the greatest actors before he died. • Better: Heath Ledger’s portrayal of “The Joker” in The Dark Knight not only earned him an Academy Award, but was considered the best performance of the year.
Significant • Are you writing something new, or are you having the same argument that everyone has about your topic
Significant • Poor: Dr. Martin Luther King is one of the most important figures in the Civil Rights Movement. • Better: Dr. Martin Luther King used his great ability to communicate with all races to further the Civil Rights Movement.