Framework Preparation


Frontlines – These are pre-written responses against common objections to your case.

Out – An out is just an argument you can leverage heavily to win a particular layer without too much discomfort.

Word Economy – To preserve highly valuable speech, debaters try to make succinct, lucid arguments that are economical in number of words and syllables.

Meta – This term refers to the general trends in common arguments debaters make in-round. The word especially refers to the positions read by debaters doing well at tournaments.

LARP’er – This is short for Live Action Role Player. It used to be a pejorative for LD debaters pretending – or role-playing, rather – to be a policy debater, but the term lost its negative connotation recently. A LARP’er reads plans, loves utilitarianism, and isn’t known for being great at framework debate. Sometimes they read theoretical justifications for their framework just to preclude the whole framework debate.

Compile Effective Frontlines

Cut comparative cards, so you can simultaneously refute your opponent’s framework while generating offensive reasons to prefer your own. If you’re reading a Kant NC and know a Gauthier AC will be popular, find cards about what Kantians say in response to contractarianism. This makes analysis much simpler and you’ll look more perceptually dominant for understanding the debate better. Cutting these cards is easy. CTRL + F is your best friend; search for keywords or philosophers’ names in a book written by someone who defends your framework.

Frontlining should always start with cards since philosophers almost always make higher quality arguments than you can. Be sure to line down the cards a lot. Through practice, you’ll figure out which cards are easiest for judges to understand while still being hard for your opponent to respond. If any cards are proving tough to line down, write analytics that paraphrase those cards simply. Afterwards, supplement your frontlines with your own analytics because analytics can be made with greater word economy.

Don’t fill up frontlines with just defense. Too many debaters treat the two parts of the framework flow as independent. But answers to the NC should also be offensive reasons to prefer the AC framework. This prevents your opponent from kicking out of their warrants where you only made defensive arguments.

As a rule of thumb, you should target to prepare five solid reasons x framework is comparatively better than y framework.


Many circuit debaters act as though time trade-offs are the only consideration behind making an argument. This consequently justifies reading tricky blips that are harder to respond to than to make. Each one offers another out for you on the framework debate.

There’s a truth to this sentiment, but many debaters have gone too far with it. The problem is this: you can only win if your opponent makes a mistake. Sometimes that won’t happen. It almost never happens against the best debaters. Against them, you need truth on your side.

A good framework combines tricks and truth. The real issue is not blips per se, but rather the over-reliance on blips. When your opponent answers tricky blips, the time trade-off is still in your favor, so there’s no harm in reading them. The harm comes when your entire NC was false arguments and the 1AR made all the true responses. If you’re successful, this will inevitably happen since debaters prep out successful arguments and talk to each other about them. If your only hope is tricks, you’re out of luck in the long run.

You need truth to make going for framework always be an out. You also need to be a warrior for that truth; you need to genuinely believe your position. A confident mindset helps generate arguments quicker. In a close framework debate, the perceptual dominance entailed by conviction and being on the right side of the argument can often be the deciding factor in a round.

Last, you should avoid long link chains in your framework. If you have to win a 4-point link chain of arguments, it will be tough to extend framework in a time-crunched 1ar, especially given how much time it’d take to win all four points. Have multiple independent outs instead.

Concretely, this means you should have two or three true-to-the-lit arguments that you can always win because they’re just good. A few quick outs can then be sprinkled throughout the framework preferably with buzzwords like “hijack” or “co-opts” or “precludes” that make them easier to flow.

Adjust for the topic lit

Every time a topic comes out, the best framework debaters adjust their frameworks. When the topic literature changes, so will the meta for framework debate. On some topics, certain NC’s become extremely common. Just like your contentions should be multi-faceted, so should your framework arguments – make sure each of your AC framework arguments interact well in defeating multiple common NC frameworks.

When analyzing the meta, you should place extra emphasis on your regional circuit. West coast debaters reading Kant should probably read different framework arguments than east coast debaters. West coast debaters should include pre-empts to utilitarianism, while east coast Kantians should pre-empt more tricky stuff like presumption triggers or skepticism. You should adjust accordingly at different tournaments based on the pool of debaters.

Because different opponents will channel different styles and strategies, you should consider having multiple modules for your AC framework. Many LARP’ers do this for their contentions and it only makes sense to extend the practice to framework debate. For instance, if you know you’ll debate a virtue ethics NC, sneaking in a framework warrant that says teleology justifies util gives you a great out in the 1AR. It’s been said before and it always bears repeating: your AC should be written with the 1AR in mind.

You should not only pre-empt arguments, but also strategies. For instance, many LARP’ers in California have been pursuing a strategy of launching 5 different layers to win framework on. Their goal is to go for the least covered layer or two and win there. Because many of these LARP’ers can’t win when grinded out on a single framework layer, a possible counter-strategy could be conceding their weighing for whatever is arguably the highest layer and win there definitively.