Conventions of Composition Rule 203

Rule: Making bold claims will strengthen your writing only if you support the claims with textual evidence. A lawyer can't say, "My client is innocent," and walk out of the room with a not guiltyverdict. First, she has to support her claim with evidence. Your job as a writer demands the same support, only yours will come from the text rather than from a crime scene.


Wrong: Daisy melts down during her first visit to Gatsby's house.

Better: Daisy melts down during her first visit to Gatsby's house. In fact, when Daisy sees Gatsby's shirts, she sobs, "They're such beautiful shirts" (118)

Wrong: IM wakes up lost and afraid.

Better: IM wakes up lost and afraid. After looking around, he notes, "My eyes were swimming with tears. Why, I didn't know. It worried me" (238).

Practice making bold claims that you could support with textual evidence:

  1. McMurphy quickly wins the other patients to his side.
  2. Bernard acts in cowardly ways.
  3. Candide lives through ridiculous circumstances.

Resources for further explanation about supporting claims with evidence:

The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill's Evidence

Indiana University's Writing Tutorial Service's Incorporating Evidence Into Your Essays

University of Maryland University College's Paragraph Structure