Trial by Fire

Written by: Haley Erb

Primary Source: Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures

Being controversial on purpose won’t get you invited to a lot of parties, but it might make you a better writer.

Defending your ideas can be terrifying; most people instinctively avoid confrontation. But debate sharpens both your ideas and your rhetoric. Early rhetoricians studied the subject for the express purpose of speaking in the public forum. They knew that ideas forged in the fire of controversy naturally become stronger – or, if they aren’t strong in the first place, burn out. And there’s nothing wrong with that. A weak idea that burns out is almost always a learning experience.

For some tips on how to actually go about raising some hell, check out this article at copybot.

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Haley Erb
Haley Erb is a junior in the Professional Writing program. She also studies creative writing and the digital humanities. She is a pro-oxford comma and an excellent marshmallow roaster. Willing to ramble about typography, writing, design, food, science, books, space, or pretty much anything. She can be bribed with sour candy. Follow Haley on Twitter @haleys_comma.