Planting a Naysayer in Your Text
(Enhancing Your Writing With
While writing, we might often fear what
others would say or how they respond to our
This is called the counterargument.
Use this fear to your advantage!
If you find yourself doubting, worrying, or
fearing that your reader might have a
different opinion, this is a perfect opportunity
to acknowledge it!
It is better to acknowledge than ignore a
We know there are multiple sides to any
argument (called counterarguments);
therefore, there are many points of view to
consider whenever you are trying to build a
When establishing the conversation, it’s
important to not only include those who
agree with you but also those who disagree
One way to include those who disagree with
you is by planting a naysayer.
They are terms to be used
1. What does it mean to “plant a naysayer”
in your text?
To plant a naysayer in your text is to
incorporate viewpoints in your essay that
might be against you.
Think of planting a
naysayer as being two
steps ahead—like when
When you play chess, you
have to constantly be
anticipating the next
move…if not several
moves…of your opponent.
Anticipating what others will
say to your argument is the
Therefore, you want to plant
what they will say before
they get a chance to!
Pretend you are in high school again and at
that age where you are earning your
You want to convince your
mom/dad/guardian to let you go to a party on
Friday night, but you know they will have
What are they? Let’s guess:
“It isn’t safe to drive that late at night”
“You have a big test Monday”
“You work early on Saturday morning”
You have already anticipated what
mom/dad/guardian will say.
What better way to “win” your argument than
to prepare your answers before they can
even speak? So you say:
“I want to go to a party on Friday night. We’re going to
get an Uber to drive us and bring us home (solves
objection #1). I have already studied for my test on
Monday and can use Sunday to review my notes
(solves objection #2). And since I have work on
Saturday morning, I will be home by midnight so that I
can get enough sleep. Is it okay that I go?”
Mom/dad/guardian is left speechless!
You anticipated everything they were going
to say as a counterargument to your
You disarmed them by already beating them
You comforted them that you had already
though through all the possibilities.
As a result, you are given the okay to
attend the party!
Because you are part of a dialogue or
debate, planting a naysayer will actually
enhance your credibility.
The more you give voice to your critics’
objections, the more you tend to disarm
those critics, especially if you go on to
answer them in convincing ways.
Planting naysayers also helps you to come
across as a generous, open-minded person
who is confident enough to be open to
Before you after you develop your claim in
MEAL form, you want to incorporate into
your paragraph a template such as these:
Yet some readers may challenge my view by
insisting that _____________.
Of course, many will probably disagree on the
grounds that _____________.
At this point, I would like to raise some
objections that have been inspired by the
skeptic in me…
Naysayers are flexible—they can go anywhere
and everywhere in an essay.
A naysayer can go at the beginning, middle, or
end of a paragraph. Or they can be an entire
paragraph (this is addressed later in the
Ideally, they will go wherever you yourself start
to doubt or question your claim/main point. And if
you don’t doubt your claim, then you have to
“pretend” to be your opponent and raise that
However, it must ALWAYS be reinforced by your
rebuttal! Or else there are SERIOUS
3. What are some negative effects that
might happen if you don’t plant any
If you don’t place any naysayers in your
text, you might come across as close-
minded or that there is nothing in your
argument worth disputing.
You might also leave unanswered
questions or arguments unaddressed.
You might find you have little say—
entertaining naysayers sometimes gives
writers something to write about and
generate more text.
4. According to the editors, how can you
represent objections fairly?
Although you might often want to rush past
your naysayers, it’s important you
represent them fairly and adequately.
To do this, you should stay with your
naysayers for several sentences, or
perhaps even an entire paragraph.
Your goal is to bolster your credibility, so
take advantage of the naysayer by fully
developing what they might contend.
5. What is the best way you should answer
to your objections?
First, you want to make sure that the
objection you raise isn’t more convincing
than your own argument.
Also, you should never dismiss an
But the best way to answer your objections
is to agree/disagree simultaneously.
Provide a “yes, but” or “yes and no.” This
way, you make concessions while still
standing your ground.
After you have developed the naysayer and
given them some credit, you have to follow
up with your own claim:
While it is true that _________, it does not
necessarily follow that ___________.
Proponents of X are right to argue that
_______. But they exaggerate when they
claim that ___________.
On the one hand, I agree with X that
_________. But on the other hand, I still insist
For more on how to integrate the naysayer
into your paragraphs using templates, see
the Counterargument Powerpoint that follows