How to Write a Persuasive Essay

| March 15, 2013

This guide looks at writing a persuasive essay.  It focuses mainly upon what differentiates a persuasive essay from other types of essay. We have other useful guides to help you when writing essays in general, and also other specific types of essay, so do check these out as well. A persuasive essay can be defined as a dialogue between writer and reader, in which the writer tries to convince the reader of a particular point of view. In persuasive essays the writer might also think about possible objections the reader might make, and offer arguments against these.

Persuasive essays are also known as argument essays.

What Topic?

persuasive essay

  • You might be given little choice in the topic for your persuasive essay. However, if you are able to chose what you write about, make an informed choice. Choose a topic that people have strong opinions about.
  • The topic should be one about which people have strong feelings, but also one where different people hold different views. There is little point in selecting a topic about which people are in agreement.
  • You should also personally have strong opinions about the topic. This will help make your argument as convincing as it can possibly be. If you have a strong personal connection, so much the better.

Planning your Essay

  • Decide what position you are going to take. What side will you be on, what solutions will you offer, what are the benefits of your position?
  • Understand your audience. Who are you writing for? Who needs to be convinced? Are they negative or neutral to your stance?
  • Research the subject.  You need to move beyond your personal current understanding to embrace what other people know.

How to Structure your Persuasive Essay

  • Just like other types of essay, the persuasive essay should have an introduction, main body and conclusion. However, the persuasive essay differs in some ways to conventional essays:
  • The introduction might need to grab the reader’s attention with an unusual detail, strong statement, memorable statistic or similar device to ensure the topic stands out.  The introduction should also include a thesis or hypothesis statement, where you tell the reader what you believe to be the case. Your essay will then go on to argue that your thesis is correct.
  • The main body of the essay will provide evidence to support your thesis statement, and consider objections.     You could structure the main body as follows:
    • Present arguments for your position
    • Consider objections to your argument
    • Present counter-arguments, show why the objections are wrong.  Consider including concession statements (acknowledging that there is something in your opponent’s point of view)
  • The conclusion should restate the thesis, summarise the main points made, and finish with a statement of your position, for example
  • summarise the central aspects of the argument and re-state your position, perhaps with recommendations, a question, or a prediction.

Table 1, below, suggests a model to use for your persuasive essay.

Main section Subsection level 1 Subsection level 2
Introduction 1. Hook reader’s attention
2. Background information
3. Thesis statement
Main Body First argument to support thesis Topic sentence which explains point
Statement of your reason 
Look at opposing point of view
Give evidence why opposing point of view wrong
Summary
 
Second argument to support thesis Topic sentence which explains point
Statement of your reason 
Look at opposing point of view
Give evidence why opposing point of view wrong
Summary
 
Third argument to support thesis Topic sentence which explains point
Statement of your reason 
Look at opposing point of view
Give evidence why opposing point of view wrong
Summary
Other arguments as necessary
 
Conclusion Summary of main points
Restatement of thesis
Final personal summary

Table 1: possible structure for persuasive essay

Bibliography

Birch, A (1993)  Essay Writing Made Easy: Presenting Ideas in All Subject Areas,  Pembroke Publishers Limited, USA

Cambridge University Press (2013) ‘Persuasive Essays’, [online] (cited 13th February 2013) available from

http://www.cambridge.org/other_files/downloads/esl/waw/089-110_WritersAtWork_CH04.pdf

Purdue Online Writing Lab (2013) ‘Argumentative Essays’ , [online] (cited 13th February 2013) available from

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/685/05/

Tan, L (2001) Home Help in Essay Writing Curriculum Press, Australia.

Waterford HS (2013) ‘Writing the Persuasive Essay’, [online] (cited 13th February 2013) available from

http://www2.waterforduhs.k12.wi.us/staffweb/sereno/mainpages/InfoLit/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20Writing%20the%20Persuasive%20Essay.pdf

Tags: essay writing, persuasive essay

Category: Essay Writing Guide