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November 29, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

How to Write a Decent 1AC from DDI Notes

How to write a 1AC

General premises
– let the literature define the 1AC – not the other way around. See what’s out there before you start looking for specific things. If you don’t, you’ll lose out on the unexpected turns that the research might take which can improve the aff

– as cutting cards, star cards based on quality; mark some as 1AC cards. This is particularly important when you’re working with other people–to clarify which of your cards are good when someone else has to organize them.

– organize the Aff file first—helps you know what args you have (although should know while cutting); helps you find cards within sections

– write out ideal advantage tags/establish basic structure of each section of the 1AC; fill cards into this outline and morph tags as necessary. Only do this AFTER you’ve done a fair amount of research. You should have a good sense of the literature before you start doing targeted searches to fill the gaps. Don’t START out doing homerun searches.

Things that Make Some 1ACs More Strategic Than Others
– General premise. Build your 1AC from the back forward. Think about the 2AR, and what tools you’ll want to have available. Build a 1AC that contains those tools.

– Think about your debating style, and choose among the different options for types of affs. Possibilities: big stick, small but probable, something more critique-y. In each of these cases, there’s some way for you to leverage your skill and familiarity and style of debating.

– Sometimes you can force the debate into your territory. For example, our commons aff is arguably not topical, but if you know that you can do a lot of work to prepare for the obvious response. And because it’s a little different it neutralizes a lot of the generic work that other teams will do

– Diversity of impacts. In particular, a diversity of impacts that operate in different in frames. For example, have a 1AC with one impact that happens very fast, another that is more probable/bigger, another that deals with systemic risks. Or, you can have one impact that’s premised on security/war, another that’s about the environment, and a third that’s about loss of dignity. The range of options makes it much harder for the negative to isolate the debate via impact comparison

– If possible, read impacts that are likely to turn likely negative positions.

– Evidence that makes multiple claims. You want 1AC cards that are dense and full of a variety of arguments. Your time is limited, so read cards that have multiple purposes and uses for later speeches. Think about evidence that has warrants that can be used to answer likely Neg args in the 2AC

– Sometimes include preempts to likely negative arguments. Embedded answers to DAs/counterplans. However, NEVER use the terminology of ‘put away your X argument.’ It’s obnoxious.

– Name your advantages clearly and concisely. One or two words, ideally. Avoid silly names. Don’t try to be clever – just be clear.

One other thing
– Have a K-friendlier version of the 1AC for teams that are likely to go for Ks. This doesn’t mean taking out ALL of the impacts, or reading a ‘critique’ aff – it means picking some good impacts that you feel capable of defending against either a K or a policy team. For example, you might take out your hegemony advantage, or at least reading a soft power based argument rather than a hard power one. The idea is not to AVOID the link, but to reduce the magnitude of it, while still giving yourself some big impacts. Take out your evidence that would give a clear link (ev that describes the Mideast as inherently unstable, etc.). Read fewer impacts, and give yourself more time for preempts.

Should we read a lot of short advantages or a few good ones?
The latter. There’s a point of diminishing returns with reading tons and tons of impacts. That said, there are certainly circumstances where overloading the negative with a lot of impacts can be very useful. This is the case with some of the big stick affs, where there are five or six advantages that have genuinely good internal links. This can make the debate difficult for the negative–but be careful not to spread yourself out.

How should we go about starting to research an aff?
Start big. Very big. Read very generally, get a sense of what qualified people seem to say about the issue, narrow your focus a little bit. Within that narrowed focus, get a sense of what people think, and then narrow your focus a bit more. Your eventual aff file should be terraced–as you become more familiar you can keep getting more and more specific. Your completed aff file should almost always have a lot of extraneous work that is floating around it, but didn’t end up being particularly useful. If you don’t have that flotsam and jetsam, it’s a good sign that you weren’t searching broadly enough and won’t know if your aff is really a good idea.

How should we write the plan?
Generally, write your plan LAST. Find your good solvency cards and figure out what they support. Build your plan off the wording used by those authors. Also, know your terminology. What is the official name of what you’re talking about. More broadly, can you defend every word in the plan against a potential PIC? You can’t research every PIC, obviously, but you should have a reason for each word you include. Further, consider potential good counterplans. Avoid specifying things that you don’t need to specify if it might expose you to a counterplan.

K aff. Should it have a plan text?
Almost always. But the main test you have to ask your is whether you have an answer to the argument that we should do the whole aff except for the plan. If not, then it will probably be dangerous to read a plan. Possibly that means you should reconsider the aff, more than it means you should read the aff without a plan text.

link to the original notes


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