Proposal Essay

posing a Solution to a Problem—102

200 points 

  • Due November 1st  by midnight
  • 750-1000 (no more than 1200)
  • Follow MLA format and citation guidelines (see chapter 54)
  • Reference and cite at least 2 outside sources
  • See Chapter 20 for more details on how to write a proposal
  • Optional: provide a visual that illustrates your solution or problem

The Assignment: 

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Proposals convince readers to take action to a particular problem. Choose a problem at your school, workplace or local government. You can go bigger and choose a problem on a national or world scale but remember this is a rather short assignment. If you go too broad, it will be difficult to do it well. Good writing takes a bite off a larger subject and explores it in detail.

Once you choose your problem, propose a solution to that problem.

The objectives for this assignment are to:

  • Convince your readers of a problem that is in need of a solution.
  • Propose a solution (or solutions) to that problem and convince your readers that your proposed solution is a good one.

Things to consider as you write your proposal:

A well-defined problem: make sure the problem you choose to write about is well-defined and is actually a problem. If the problem is a debatable one, you MUST convince your readers of the problem before getting into the proposed solution (see page 249).

A recommended solution clearly stated: describe your solution in enough detail that the reader is clear on what exactly you are proposing. This is where a photograph or a visual of sorts might help.

Make sure you have a clearly defined thesis statement, and your essay is well organized. Follow the basic essay outline: an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion and don’t lose sight of your main point. Follow the guidelines in chapter 20 pages 252-253 for a proposal that considers several possible solutions or one that considers a single solution.

A response to anticipated questions: consider any questions readers may have about your proposal to demonstrate that its advantages outweigh its disadvantages. This would be considered the refutation, and often works well works well after you’ve already explained your proposed solution—commonly, the refutation is towards the end of the essay, but you can refute throughout the essay as well or even before you propose your solution.

Do revise, edit and proofread your work. I highly recommend using The Writing Center. 

Avoid the 2nd person “you”.

Maintain an appropriate tone. Your goal is to convince. Readers will be more persuaded by a reasonable and respectful tone.

If you would like…

If you want to be creative and you are inspired by Dennis Baron’s “Don’t make English official, ban it instead”, then you can take a satirical approach by offering an outlandish solution to a problem. The challenge with this approach is that you have to understand the issue well on both sides. If you don’t, it’s quite easy for this approach to come across as off putting. There are some issues that are too serious for satire if the writer doesn’t understand the nuance around the issue. My advice for this approach, is to write about something you know intimately and have explored before OR take on an issue that’s not too serious (like athletes getting paid or pot holes in New Orleans).

Assignment is due Sunday, October 25th by midnight. This assignment is worth 20% of your overall grade.