The main purpose of writing a persuasive essay is, like the name suggests it, to convince the audience of a certain point. This type of academic writing task is also known as argumentative essay — it is expected that you use sufficient arguments to defend your position.
But what is persuasive essay writing exactly? How to nail it by making your reader take your side of the argument? How to write a persuasive essay and how to end it? What are the secrets of making your opponent believe you and winning the argument? Read on to discover some useful tips, hints, and tactics.
Let us start with some steps you should follow when writing an argumentative essay.
How to Write Argumentative Essay: Steps
Step 1: Preparation
- Choose a topic. It should be contradictory enough, with more than one point of view possible. Moreover, the author is supposed to select the topic that is dear to their heart to enjoy the process of writing later. Ensure that your topic is something specific. For example, the topics “Does Facebook Cause Isolation and How?” or “Are Security Cameras Invading Our Privacy?” are a great choice for those who are searching for something that’s not super broad. Remember, in case your stance on the issue can be easily boiled down to a simple “no/yes”, then, you won’t have too much talk on the topic. So, it’s better to choose a specific statement to disclose.
- Choose the side you are on. Now, your task is to choose your perspective and convince the reader of its legitimacy and logical supremacy as compared to other points of view. For instance, if your topic sounds like “Should Citizens Be Provided with the Right to Keep Exotic Pets?” you have to decide whether it’s their right to keep such animals at home or such pets create a serious danger to other individuals (let alone, keeping such pets is harmful to the animals!). Make certain that you can defend your position. In case you find it hard to consider any solid defenses against the opponent’s counter arguments, maybe it’s the right moment to re-think the topic you’ve picked.
- Pick an argument to appeal to human emotions. Thus, you will give your audience a chance to connect with what you’re saying. The reality is that people argue rationally quite rarely, which means that making them dive emotionally into your viewpoint is the amazing way to change their mind. Without a doubt, you’ll have to provide rational arguments in your argumentative essay, but things will be tough in case you introduce the topic that never arouses any feelings.
- Picture your audience. Which side of the argument are they on? What do you presume, will they agree or disagree with your perspective, or will they be indifferent or indecisive? You will need this information to understand how strong your evidence should be.
- Do a thorough research. Find robust evidence that supports your position. It might be facts, logical arguments, or statements from experts. Sometimes, inserting fragments of your personal experience can be helpful.
- Think about the objections your reader might raise. When elaborating a persuasive essay, you should try to overrule them with stronger evidence. Anticipate their counter-arguments and rebut them in advance.
- Organize your evidence. You should order it in the most persuasive way, usually by presenting the strongest arguments in the end, in order to rid your reader of any doubts.
These are some general steps; without them, you simply won’t write a persuasive essay. Still, if you want your paper to hit the bulls-eye and change the way your reader thinks, you need a few tactics. Below, we’ll share with you some tips on how to make argumentative essay most convincing.
Step 2: Structure Your Essay
Before you start working on your essay, you should consider drafting its structure first. If you are wondering how to write an argumentative essay outline, then it’s no different from any other essay outline. Just remember that the body paragraphs should correspond with your key arguments. For example, when you have a classic 5-paragraph essay, make sure that paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 dwell on an argument each. What’s more, consider tackling a possible counterargument in the third paragraph, in order to make your rationale more convincing.
You must be aware of not just your side of the argument, but also the one of your opponent. Acknowledgment of the opposing views is called concession. It allows you to win your argument more gracefully by first discovering the common ground with the opponent. Find out what kind of evidence they might use, what data they might operate, or what information they might appeal to. Then refute those with even stronger arguments. You might even mention the actual counter-arguments before confusing them.
Step 3: Write the Introduction
Importantly, you should think about how to write argumentative essay introduction and make it effective. We advise you to start your opening paragraph with a hook, an attention-grabber for your reader. You can insert a quote here, introduce a curious fact or draw some stats, or construct a vivid situation. Your hook is the very first sentence that can help you convince your audience. As long as it draws your reader in, you’ve done your job! For instance, feel free to start your persuasive essay on the necessity of entering college like this: “There are individuals, who have never been to college and are doing better than those with a degree.” This simple statement tells nothing special at all. However, it encourages your readers to keep on reading in order to find out why things are like that.
Do you feel like you can’t come up with a hook at the moment? Proceed to the next writing steps! You can always come back to this part later even after you’ve accomplished your project.
Then, it’s time for a thesis statement. In this sentence—the most important part of your essay — you should:
- introduce the topic;
- present your point of view;
- tell your readers how you are going to do that (e.g., by providing some factual evidence).
- Don’t forget about a transition to the body part of the essay.
Use the last sentence of every ‘body’ paragraph as a smooth transition to the next paragraph. Make sure to provide a natural transition from the last sentence of one paragraph to the first one of the next. For instance, the end of the paragraph: “Wearing a school uniform would blend all pupils together avoiding any class inequality” and the beginning of the following paragraph: “School uniforms provide students with the environment that is free from bullying.”
Ensure to construct a thesis statement that is both specific and focused. Your audience should know exactly what the author is going to debate and why. “Fracking Should Be Banned” is a pretty weak thesis since it’s not focused enough. A solid thesis statement would be, “While some people say that fracking is a very effective method to extract natural gas, the others insist that it’s quite dangerous and hazardous to the environment.”
Step 4: Write the Body
Every ‘body’ paragraph should be solidly focused on a single evidence. Make sure to include references and facts to support each of your claims. Use the so-called rule of thumb: every time you make a claim that isn’t a typical one for the subject, support it. One of the best ways to cope with it lies in reverse. Make sure your evidence leads you and your readers to your arguments.
Here is a good example of the case:
- “Liberty and equal opportunities aren’t just essential for people, they are good for the whole global community in general. What’s more, the lack of those is considered “demoralization and perversion” and prevents “any social improvement.” (Mill, 98)
Also, have a look at the poor one:
- “The prison helps to keep dangerous criminals and drug dealers off the cities, and people are safer because of that.”
However, if you support it with solid evidence, it won’t be pointless.
Just like in your research paper, dissertation or speech writing, challenging your audience is always a good idea! According to the basics of the persuasive essay writing, the author of the paper shouldn’t be confrontational. However, you need to force your audience to re-evaluate their points of view.
A good way to do so:
- “Every person wants lower crime rates, stronger families, and safer streets. However, we should ask ourselves if we’re ready to leave the comfort zone to get the desired results”
But, try to avoid those may sound poor:
- “This policy is a total failure and every individual that believes it is delusional and completely stupid.”
At a minimum, generate 3 ‘body’ paragraphs to justify your points and provide your evidence. Check how all the paragraphs flow together. It is important to ensure the persuasive essay points are naturally presented one after another, rather than scattered all over the text.
Step 5: Craft the Conclusion
So, we’ve given you a few tips on how to write persuasive essay introduction and what to remember about in your body paragraphs. Now, let’s get to the final point — how to end the persuasive essay. The main tips for closing your argumentative essay are to rephrase your thesis statement or summarize your main points (in this case, your key arguments). Then, to spice it all up, put your central statement in the broader context. Let your final sentence make the reader wonder, “what’s next?” They will surely want to know where they can go from here or how they can make use of their new point of view. A call for action, a recommendation, or just an open question might provide them with a hint.
Take a day or two off. Let your essay sit and your mind rest. Then, read your persuasive essay with fresh eyes. Ask yourself if your essay is logical and convincing.
Step 6: Polish Up Your Essay
OK, you've completed your persuasive essay, and the time for an effective revision has come. When you revise your essay, you have to ensure its organization is absolutely appropriate to your target audience, the paper context, and the purpose. Remember, the message of your essay will be both more controversial and effective if your project connects with the target audience, serves the specified purpose as well as explains the intended context to your readers. To make sure your writing is of the good quality, overlook this our step by step guide on how to perform a thorough revision of your assignment.
Start by reading your project to yourself paragraph after paragraph. Do that out loud to make certain your persuasive essay says what you have planned to say. Pay due attention to the way you use various types of sentences, how you choose the right words for the text as well as how you tend to express what’s on your mind. Do not hesitate to change what you feel should be changed. Feel free to switch the sentences location or order, add or erase words and ideas, or fix anything else in a paper structure or its context to make it better and more concise. Use the word counter to ensure your essay meets all the college requirements.
Then, approach your college mates and ask them to check your work to give you a fresh viewpoint about your writing. Listen to what they say and consider their tips to write a good persuasive paper.
Consider the following questions as a part of the revision process:
- Do the introduction, the body, and the concluding part of the essay include a clearly presented main idea with strong facts, explanations or/and details?
- Do you, as the writer, provide a consistent viewpoint, focus, and organizational outline, including the proper paragraphing?
- Have you successfully proved a clear understanding of the core purpose?
- Did you use various types of sentences?
- Does your content include any language errors – spelling, punctuation or grammar ones?
- Have you removed every error that wouldn’t let your audience understand the text?
Summing it up, the “how to write argumentative essay effectively” formula is simple: present your point of view on a controversial topic, support your arguments with strong evidence, and always keep your opponents in mind. In this article, we have walked you through the essential steps in writing an argumentative essay and prepared some tips for each part of your piece. Now it’s your turn to use all of these in practice and craft a powerful persuasive text.
WRITING A PERSUASIVE ESSAY
A persuasive essay tries to convince the reader to agree with the writer's opinion on a subject. In your persuasive essay you do three things:
- Present your position on a discussable issue.
- Anticipate possible objections and overcome them with logic and evidence to support your claim.
- Convince readers that they have something to gain by adopting your viewpoint.
Choosing a discussable issue
A discussable issue is one that can be debated. Choose a topic about which there can be more than one reasonable opinion. It may be possible to write a persuasive essay about the need to feed all the hungry children in the world, but it would not be a particularly interesting essay because no reasonable person would declare that all the hungry children deserve to starve. It might be more interesting to try to persuade readers that half of all American tax dollars should be earmarked to go first to all the hungry children of the world; you will probably uncover at least one or two dissenting viewpoints. Conversely, you might suggest that it is wrong to spend American tax dollars this way, and that the hungry children should be taken care of entirely by rich private donors; again, in this you will find a difference of opinion among reasonable people.
It is sometimes easier to persuade someone when you are passionate about a subject. If possible then, pick a subject about which you feel strongly. Make a list of your opinions and feelings about the subject. Is this an urgent issue? Are the implications far-reaching and serious? Does it impact you personally? Do you feel angry about it? Are you worried? Are you excited that taking a particular action on this issue could do a great deal of good to many people?
On the other hand, it isn't necessary to feel strongly about your topic. Sometimes you even may be asked in an assignment to take a stance opposite your beliefs. If you are asked to argue for a particular position, do some role-playing: imagine yourself as someone who feels strongly in favor of this stance, and make a list of your (imaginary) opinions and feelings. This may be challenging, but it is also rewarding. Learning to be persuasive on a subject you yourself do not support wholeheartedly is a valuable life skill-think of marketing, legal, education, and human resources professions, for example. When you practice looking at an issue from many sides, you may find that you have learned something.
Anticipating and overcoming objections
Discussing your topic with others before you start to write may eliminate certain directions your writing could take as well as suggest others. Ask other people how they feel about the issue; test your opinions and reasons on them. Listen closely to their opinions, especially to those with whom you disagree. This will give you a preview of responses you can expect from your audience. Ask people why they feel the way they do. The initiative is yours–you must acknowledge and genuinely understand opposing views and overcome them with the force of your persuasion, for hostile or indifferent readers are not likely to go out of their way to understand you. Take opposing viewpoints seriously and do not oversimplify them. It is not effective or convincing to base your argument on easily refutable points.
Gather facts and evidence that support your position and refute opposing positions. Look online, in newspapers, and in magazines for current articles on the subject. Take careful notes on what you read and use these notes to build a strong argument. Discuss your list of arguments and evidence with someone else to make sure you have covered all the important related points. Draw up a thesis statement–sometimes called a proposition, a statement of what you propose to prove in your writing–and list your reasons underneath it. Beneath each reason, list the facts, figures, examples, or quotations that help support it.
Always state the proposition in positive terms: "Teachers
should be prohibited from secretly searching student lockers," rather than, "Teachers should not be allowed to secretly search student lockers." State your thesis as a fact that you intend to prove beyond a doubt, rather than as an opinion: "Teachers should be prohibited..." is much more persuasive than, "I think teachers should be prohibited...." In a persuasive essay, conviction and strong direct word use is everything.
Give your reader–even an unsympathetic reader–the respect due him. Be diplomatic. It is not persuasive to suggest that your opponents are morons who simply do not understand the matter, or that they are vicious sociopaths with a destructive hidden agenda. Rely on logic rather than emotion, using words that will elicit a positive reaction from your audience. Give credit to your opponents; then clearly point out the weakness in their position.
As you write, define any key terms that you feel your audience will not understand, and use examples to illustrate your main points. Statistics can be good attention grabbers, particularly in the introduction, but use them sparingly and round off numbers. Use visual images such as metaphors and analogies to compare one thing to another as much as possible. Use your strongest arguments first and last–people are more likely to remember those points placed at the beginning and end of your paper.
The conclusion, while summarizing (not simply re-stating) your position, should say something beyond those points. Appeal to the needs of your audience. Prove to your readers why this issue is important and show what they can gain by changing their viewpoint. Asking rhetorical questions can also be effective in leaving your audience with something to think about. Write with conviction!