Before looking at the construction of arguments, it is first necessary to look at their shape and form. To do this, we must recognize that arguments occur within a social context--they are the process/product of people interacting, and relating. Over the years, several scholars have mapped out these relations, much as you would a family tree. Aristotle was the first to notice the similarities of arguments and stories. For Aristotle, the act of storytelling consisted of three elements: a story, a storyteller, and an audience.
Similarly, arguments also required these three elements:
Aristotle defined these three elements as ETHOS, LOGOS, and PATHOS. Since then, different scholars have conceived of different models of rhetoric, but the model we are concerned with comes from Robert Scholes. Realizing the three elements, Scholes examined the relationship between the speaker/message, speaker/audience, and message/audience. These three relations make up the three sides of the rhetorical triangle. You may use this triangle to map out the overall effectiveness of an argument.
Note how the equilateral triangle below would refelct an argument with a careful balance of ethos, logos, and pathos.
What if this were an isosceles or right triangle? What might it suggest about the effectiveness of its argument?