How should you format your first 1AC? First, let’s give two example outlines. Second, realize which stock issues are proven where. Third, we’ll talk about the actual writing.

I. Example Outlines

Plan-Meet-Need case structure looks like this:

I. Introduction — Put us in the frame of mind to hear you

II. Resolutional Analysis (definitions of key terms, plus an argument as to what’s most important in today’s debate round). A. Definitions. B. Goal/Value.

III. Status Quo

A. What’s going on thing number 1

B. What’s going on thing number 2

IV. Failure of the Status Quo

A. Harm 1

B. Harm 2

V. Plan (agency, mandates, funding, enforcement)

VI. Solvency

A. Harm 1 is solved

B. Harm 2 is solved

[VII. Advantages — optional OTHER benefits your plan creates, not problems solved though]

VIII. Conclusion — Make us feel good again and remember the biggest point (which is NOT “for all these reasons”)

Comparative Advantage case structure can look like this:

I. Introduction

II. Resolutional Analysis. A. Definition. B. Goal/Value.

III. Status Quo

A. What’s going on number 1

B. What’s going on number 2

IV. Plan

V. Solvency — Predictions of what the plan will basically do

VI. Comparative Advantages (these may have multiple sub-points)

A. How our plan is better than the status quo

B. How our plan is better than the status quo even more (for another reason)

VII. Conclusion

There are many other case structures. If you’re interested, ask us and we’ll maybe post some more. You can also research such things on or plain old Google.

II. Which Stock Issues Where?

Topicality means supporting the resolution. Your primary method of “being” topical is your PLAN. The policy change you actually propose is what does or does not fit within the scope of the resolution. Your REASONS for the plan are for the word “Should” in the resolution, but everything else comes from the PLAN (that it’s a U.S. policy, is towards Russia, is significantly altered after your plan, and so on).

Your secondary method of “being” topical is definitions. IF your plan is on the borderline of being topical (i.e. the plan may or may not be “towards”, depending how you look at it), you will need to define only those words that you need to interpret for your plan to be topical. Otherwise, pretty much any reasonable definition will do and you want to not bore us all with definitions. This year, the most important word to define, in my opinion, is probably “toward” because so much foreign policy is “with”.

Inherency is all about what’s going on now. It is different from significance because significance is what we think about what’s going on. Inherency is emotionless fact. Babies are dying is inherency. That babies are dying is a moral travesty is significance. Clear as mud? Inherency is the Status Quo. Significance is your “spin” on it–and where you want the debate round to center.

Inherency is proven in “Background” (or Status Quo, or Inherency, etc) points. You also support your stock issue of inherency through your plan and solvency. If your plan actually is new, you will have someone CONTRASTING it with the Status Quo points you made earlier. In other words, if someone recommends your plan be done, they are likely showing how it is different from the Status Quo.

So you may not have any “Status Quo” or “Inherency” points by themselves. Significance and inherency are often combined (that babies are dying is obviously bad, and the same two sentences together may prove both that babies are dying and it’s our fault). Your plan, by being different, may also be a big part of the inherency debate–and your solvency authors will help you out.

Significance is every argument about “why” to pass the plan or not. Every single one. All the bad things going on now that need to be fixed (HARMS), all the good things your plan will do (ADVANTAGES), and all the bad things the negative says your plan will cause (DISADVANTAGES). These are all weighed together, but often proved at different places. HARMS are usually before the plan, but ADVANTAGES are usually after the plan. If you have either, you are proving Significance–the “why” behind your case. Decide whether your case is more about solving problems or creating advantages, or both.

Solvency is about the effects of the plan. “Post-plan” results we often say. Not about how good or bad they are, but about which results happen. Kind of emotionless, just like inherency. In fact, if you think of inherency as a description of what’s happening in the Status Quo, then think of solvency as what’s happening in your plan (the NEW Status Quo)! If your inherency points “link” to a harm (Russian relations hurting –> our soldiers will die), then your solvency points “link” to both advantages and disadvantages (Ratifying new START will cause better relations –> so we won’t go to war [or from the negative: so our NATO allies won’t trust us anymore!]).

I drew a picture and uploaded it for you to see it all together.

III. Writing your Case

First build your outline. You will probably have multiple subpoints under status quo, harms, solvency, or advantages, though you don’t need to have any points in ALL four areas. Significance and status quo are often combined, as are advantages and solvency. Some people don’t have harms. You get the gist… think about it and decide the focus of your case, then outline it.

Second, drop in your support. Whether this is quotations or your own argument from historical example or morality, put the information you will use to prove each point under the points you’ve created. Don’t worry if you have too much. You will probably have to research a bit as well. Once you have it all there, take a step back and think about time management. It’s time to shorten and delete until you have somewhere between 5 and 9 points proven with evidence (if you are a novice).

Third, put in pretty rhetoric. What you often won’t see because it isn’t modeled in sourcebooks or other people’s cases, often because experienced debaters make it up on the fly, is the beautiful rhetoric. You need to summarize almost every piece of evidence you read (“basically this means…”), and you need to put some powerful language in there between major sections in order to help us know where you are going. For example, “Since cluster munitions are as dangerous as landmines and kill more civilians than enemies, let’s take a look at our make-sense approach in Observation five, the plan”. You have the chance to use some of your own words to make your 1AC beautiful.

Fourth, read it and have someone test flow your case. You want their flow to have the most powerful words on their (your tags and labels of your points), so it’s a good judge to see if your tags are too long (they aren’t getting them), don’t make enough sense (they don’t know what to write), or aren’t clear (they wrote something else rather than what you wanted). Usually you want to verbally say numbers “one” and letters “point a” to get them to write down what you want. You also want to see how much time you have or how over time you are so you can know how much to cut.

Fifth, email your 1AC to friends or to us for a critique.

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