First Negative Constructive (1NC)

Following the Neg’s cross-examination, the Neg gives their First Negative Constructive (also known as the “NC” or “1NC.” The speech is 7 minutes.

Here’s the Neg has two jobs – presenting their own case and answering the Aff’s case. For their own case, in a traditional round the Neg will present their own Framework and their own Contention(s) before moving onto the Aff’s case. In a more “circuit” round, however, the Neg might read multiple “off-case” positions, such as Kritiks, Counterplans, Disads, and Procedurals. They are then reading multiple cases, in essence.

In dealing with the Aff’s case, the Neg will want to have a combination of offense and defense, seeking to defeat the Aff’s contentions. They also might contest the Aff’s Framework, if the two teams have read different Framework arguments.


First, it should have multiple offensive outs. Too many debaters load up the 1NC with tons of counterplans or defensive answers to the case while only reading one disad or one other offensive path to the ballot. This makes the 1AR far too easy, since the 1AR can focus its firepower on the one core 2NR option.

Second, eliminate the throwaway arguments. In the interest of making a 1NC “bigger,” many debaters will include extraneous, silly arguments that they cannot realistically go for. This is unstrategic, since a good 1AR will choose to just blow off those arguments.

Third and closely related, arguments need to be fully developed. LD is not like Policy with a 2NC/1NR to develop offense. The 1NC is the Neg’s one and only constructive; an under-developed argument in the 1NC cannot really be developed new in the 2NR without running the risk of it being a brand-new argument.

Fourth, the Neg should be careful to allocate time appropriately between case arguments and offcase arguments. Case arguments attack your opponent’s case, while offcase arguments develop your own positions (Kritiks, Counterplans, Disads, Procedurals, Negative Case, etc.). Too many debaters spend insufficient time dealing with the Aff case, which poses risks: the Aff can quickly extend their case and use dropped arguments to implicate Neg positions. It’s important to balance the time appropriately to have developed offcase arguments and also case arguments.

Fifth, be careful with card highlighting. Once again, this is a balance. Some debaters go overboard and highlight cards (highlighting entire blocks of text) and include extraneous text that is not necessary. This severely crimps the ability for the 1NC to make many arguments, because each card is excessively long as a result. However, some debaters go too far in the opposite direction and end up highlighting sentence fragments/unwarranted cards that make the cards completely worthless. A general rule of thumb is that a card should be 3-4 warranted sentences. A well-highlighted 1NC is included here.