What Are Claims in Writing?

Written by Haley Boyce

what are claims in writing

What are claims in writing? Anytime you state something you believe, then you’re making a claim. Claims in writing most often come into play in argumentative, persuasive, or literary analysis essay writing. These can be written professionally and submitted to journals and magazines, and frequently in academics. So, if you’re in class (any class — doesn’t have to be an English or creative writing class) and your instructor assigns an essay that requires you to prove a point, you will say what you believe then spend the rest of the essay explaining why your belief is correct. 

As a writer, your goal is to convince your reader to agree with your claim by the time they are done reading your essay. 

What Are the Two Parts of a Claim?

There are two parts to a claim: 1) stating it, and 2) backing it up with proof.

Think of a defense attorney in a courtroom. Their job is to fight for their client by first claiming their innocence, then to build a case proving why their claim of innocence is true. To win their case, what does the lawyer need to provide to get the jury to agree with their claim? Evidence. A knife with DNA or fingerprints, phone records, an alibi — it’s an exhaustive list.

With an essay, you will also use various types of evidence to support your claim. 

Sure, it would be great (*cough* easy) if opinion qualified as strong, convincing evidence. But in academics, any essay is only as good as its evidence, which means you’re going to need text-based proof.

If the claim is the roof of a house, the evidence is what holds it off the ground. The more support you have for your claim, the better. 

Having evidence isn’t enough, though. Much like the lawyer before a jury, you’ll need to explain to your reader why your textual evidence validates the point you are trying to make. 

How Do I Write a Claim in a Paragraph?

If you’re new to making and supporting claims in writing, or just need a refresher, here’s a trick of the trade for structuring paragraphs for textual evidence. Ladies and gents, we give you *drumroll* TEPAC.

Aristotle, the Godfather of Persuasion, Held School for Rhetoric

aristotleWe can’t talk about persuasive writing without mentioning the godfather of persuasion himself, Aristotle. 

He categorized so much of what we use today, from contributing to the classification of animals to founding formal logic. His career spanned most of the sciences and many of the arts, and considering that he did all of this Before Common Era but we still use it today, it’s safe to say Aristotle was one of our very first influencers. The O.G., if you will. 

With regard to persuasive writing, Aristotle believed that for an argument to be convincing, it must have elements that appeal to the audience in several different ways. Thus, he developed what are known as rhetorical devices:

  1. Ethos: Wherein the writer or speaker uses their credibility to persuade their audience. For example, a doctor should have more influence on your belief of science than someone without the same degrees or experience. 
  2. Logos: This is an appeal to reason, or logic. To understand logos, consider a car salesperson. If you arrive at the dealership with your three children, in search of a fancy new sports car, the dealer will possibly try to sway you in the direction of a sizable minivan and will use logic to convince you.
  3. Pathos:  said that to be persuasive, a speaker (or writer in our case) must appeal to one’s emotions. Aristotle believed that people follow the call to action by the way a speaker makes them feel. This is why, as writers, we must consider our audience. What taps the emotions of a soccer mom could be different than that of a twenty-year-old member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. 
  4. Metaphor: This device is used to make difficult concepts easier to understand. The idea is to compare two using the word is or are. For example, “your smile is the sun” is a very simple metaphor communicating that a person’s smile is bright, gives life, or makes someone feel warm (who wouldn’t want to hear that?!). In the words of the man himself, Aristotle said that “to be a master of metaphor is the greatest thing by far.”
  5. Brevity: Overload your argument with too many words and you’ll lose your audience. Don’t be afraid to cut out excess information or points that aren’t as strong as the rest of your argument.

What Are the Different Types of Claims in Writing?

There are three main types of claims that a writer can make. 

Be careful to maintain your command of the topic by disallowing yourself from becoming too emotional while writing about a topic you are passionate about.

You’ll lose your reader’s buy-in if they feel like you are demanding them to do something about your topic. Rather, focus on the persuasion. Make your reader feel like it was their idea to agree with you.