In many ways, persuasive essays can be likened to fantasy insofar as they are a dialogue that takes place between writer and reader. Indeed, the process of writing this type of essay is similar to a lawyer arguing their case to a panel of jurors. A persuasive essay writer builds arguments to convince their readers to consider something and/or to take action. It is vital the writer decides on what stance to taken on a given issue. For example, they may be for it or against it and they must create a strong, convincing argumentative case to win their readers over. They must also consider how their readers might put forward counter-arguments and they must be able to address any opposition. It is the task of the writer to persuade their readers to agree with their judgment or viewpoint.
What are Persuasive or Argumentative Essays?
Also known as argument essays, these essays serve the sole purpose of persuading readers to agree with a certain viewpoint on possibly of a controversial topic. The writer decides whether they should argue in favor of or against a particular issue and they write in such a way as to persuade the readers of the validity of their argument and take some action. The art of persuasive writing makes use of logic and reason to demonstrate how one viewpoint or idea is more valid than others.
Usually, an extensive amount of research and a full understanding of the topic is required to write a good persuasive or argument essay. Additionally, the writer should understand their readers and how likely they are to think the point or opinion they put forward is correct. A persuasive essay aims to convince readers to agree that a particular viewpoint or perspective is correct, to agree that contrary viewpoints are incorrect, and to feel compelled to act in some way. A good argument should be based on irrefutable evidence and logical reasoning. Therefore, the writer must provide proof, give good reasons, cite experts, and illustrate by example.
Creating an Outline for a Persuasive Essay
The Introductory Paragraph:
- Find a good hook to get readers interested.
- Provide any background information that is necessary or appropriate.
- Write a focused thesis statement.
Step One: First supporting reason or argument
- Use a topic sentence to explain a particular point or reason.
- Address any possible opposing argument.
- Offer an explanation to support your point.
- Write a “clincher” or final touch.
Step Two: Second supporting reason or argument
- Start with another topic sentence to explain a particular point or reason.
- Then repeat steps 2 to 4 above.
Step Three: Third supporting reason or argument
- Repeat steps 1 to 4 above.
Step Four: Addressing any opposing argument or viewpoint
- Develop a point that contrasts with opposing arguments.
- Write your rebuttal of the opposing argument.
- Provide evidence to support your viewpoint.
The Concluding Paragraph
- Recap on your thesis statement.
- Sum-up your main explanations or points.
- Issue a personal appeal or statement or call readers to action.
The Elements Required for Building Effective Persuasive Essays
When planning your persuasive essay, here are some steps to follow:
- Select your main point(s) and understand your essay’s purpose.
- Understand your readers; know whether they are likely to agree, disagree or remain neutral.
- Research your topic thoroughly and provide convincing and specific evidence.
- Think about your readers, topic, and purposes when building your persuasive essay.
Some Considerations to Bear in Mind
- Does your essay have a good opening “hook” to interest your readers so that they keep reading?
- Does your essay take a firm stance on the given issue and is it supported by appropriate examples, quotes, facts, figures, and statistics?
- Are your sentences well-structured and your choice of words precise?
- Is there strong, persuasive evidence in every paragraph to support the various points?
- Have you persuasively dealt with any opposing arguments or viewpoints?
- Will the transitions you have used help readers move smoothly between the different sentences and different paragraphs?
- Does your closing paragraph (conclusion) properly convey the validity of your stance and cause your readers to contemplate and/or take action?
In the same way an introductory paragraph should begin with an attention-grabbing hook, an effective conclusion should close with a high-impact, attention-grabbing, and influential statement. A good closing statement is the last opportunity for the writer to influence their readers. It should leave them with one last, thought-provoking idea. A strong closing statement may be:
- An intriguing quote
- A provocative question
- A logical expansion of the subject matter
- A call to action
- A future-looking prediction.
The following are a few additional tips on persuasive essay writing:
- Know your readers.
- Make sure all requests and/or statements are clear.
- Let readers know which statements are fact-based and which are value-based.
- Offer strong evidence to support all statements.
- Clarify the links between statements and evidence where these might not be clear.
- Discuss any opposing arguments where appropriate, whether these are concerns, denials, etc.
- State your stance on the issue clearly.
- Predict potential counter-arguments or opposition and be prepared to refute these with evidence and logically-constructed claims.
- Use appropriate transitional words and phrases where applicable.
- Try convincing your readers that there is benefit in them agreeing with your argument or viewpoint.
Possible Topics for Persuasive Essays
Possible topics for your persuasive essay:
- Safety and etiquette in terms of cell phone use
- Climate change
- Adopting children from foreign countries
- University application requirements
- Should there be free Wi-Fi in cities for public use?
- Should school uniforms be compulsory?
- The ethics of downloading free movies or music.