A persuasive essay involves using logic and reason to try and persuade the reader. It can be used to persuade the reader to adopt a certain point of view, or it can be used to persuade the reader to take some kind of action. If you find yourself writing such an essay, check out these tips and examples for writing your persuasive essay.
If you’re interested in reading more about this particular essay, consider reading about the four types of essays in this article. Or, learn to write great essays with an online class.
Use the Five-Step Writing Process
One of the most important things about any essay is making certain its organized. This is especially true of a persuasive essay as a disorganized essay will lack the logic and reason necessary to persuade your reader. If you’re having troubles getting started, try using the five-step writing process.
Step One: Prepare with Prewriting
Before you even start with pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, you should prepare your essay. First, you’re going to need a position. Find an issue or topic that interests you, and decide which side you take. Some good examples are the use of cellphones in classrooms, whether or not minimum wage should be raised, and your opinion on the idea of a “droopy pants” law.
Second, you should know some information about your audience. If this is an assignment for a class, you should assume that your teacher is neutral on the topic or issue you pick, and this will make your job as a reader far more easier. However, if you’re preparing a speech that involves audience members that favor one side over the side you’re presenting, you’re going to have to work a little harder.
Don’t forget your evidence. Without evidence, your persuasive essay will fall flat. Research your topic, find out everything you can on both sides of the argument. Don’t use just one source, and use a mix of source types too. If you have a couple of websites, visit your local library to get some physical sources like books or journals. Be sure to use only the most convincing of evidence, and focus on the key points of the opposing view. Take a class in the essentials for writing in college.
Examples of Prewriting
There are a number of ways you can prepare your prewriting. First, decide your position statement by picking your topic and the side you’re going to present. Write down any arguments and their supporting evidence, and think of any objections there might be against your side. Brainstorm answers to these objections to include in your paper. Here’s a PDF document with worksheets to better help you prewrite your essay.
Don’t forget to use all this information to create an outline for your essay. The typical length of a persuasive essay is five to six paragraphs, but you will want to check with your teacher if this is for an assignment. Here’s an example of what to include in your outline:
- Use a hook to grab the reader’s attention
- Summarize the issue or topic you’re about to present
- Reveal the position you’re taking on the issue or topic
- Focus on one piece of evidence in each body paragraph
- Provide support in each body paragraph
- Include a paragraph detailing the key points of the opposing view, and have evidence to refute each one
- Restate your position on the issue or topic
- Summarize the evidence you used to support your position
Read an example persuasive essay that’s against smoking bans to give you an idea of the organization involved in this essay type.
Step Two: Draft the Essay
The first thing to remember about drafting your essay is to remember that it is just that: a draft. Don’t be expecting everything to fall into place on this first draft. This is simply to get the ideas down on paper. Be prepared for this draft to lack perfection, but try to cover the following items in a logical order:
- Open with a strong hook to grab the reader’s attention
- State your position clearly
- Separate each point in a separate body paragraph, and be sure to include supporting evidence
- Summarize the opposing view, and give evidence against it
- Summarize the most important evidence, and restate your position
While writing, there are also a couple of important things to keep in mind. Decide how you’re going to persuade your readers. Are you going to use an analogy, illustrate with hypothetical situations, or draw up comparisons? Use these in your draft to strengthen your position. Learn the best way to write academic essays with an online course.
Examples of Drafting
For many people, drafting can be one of the most difficult parts. They expect their essay to simply fall onto the page with little effort on their part. After all, their outline is neatly organized, and they have plenty of research. If they did their prewriting properly, the essay should be perfect on the first shot, right? Wrong.
A draft is where many writers discover they don’t have enough evidence for a specific point, or they might realize they don’t have enough information on the opposing view. The draft is where you’re going to find the errors you didn’t notice during prewriting. This is why you shouldn’t worry about perfection. Even your grammar and spelling can be horrible at this point in your essay.
If you still feel like you’re having difficulties, Barrow County Schools has a well-written drafting document you can use to help you write that first draft. The only item missing from this particular document is the paragraph regarding the opposing view.
Another great way to draft your essay is using Donald Murray’s advice from Writing to Deadline: The Journalist at Work. Put away the notes you wrote for your essay, and hide your outline. Write down your essay from everything you can remember, and check your outline and notes when you’re finished.
Read this rough draft persuasive essay the writer posted on their blog. See if you can spot the errors in her draft using the drafting document from Barrow County Schools. It will hopefully show you why the rough draft is so important.
Step Three: Revise the Essay
Once you’ve written your draft, it’s important to revise that draft. If you used Donald Murray’s advice, one the best ways to revise your essay is to take out your notes and outline to find what you missed. If you simply wrote using your outline as a guide, consider using the questions below to help you revise your essay. Boost your proofreading with an online class.
- Have you firmly presented your position on the issue or topic? Is it supported by evidence like facts, statistics, quotes, or examples?
- Is your hook effective? Try reading your hook aloud to a few friends or relatives. Do they want to read more?
- Does each paragraph focus on a single supporting point for your position? Is the evidence within the paragraph supporting that one point?
- How are your sentences structured? Can you pick better wording for some things? Are your transitions well written?
- Does the concluding paragraph summarize the essay well? Is there an urge to the reader to think on the position or make some kind of action?
Examples of Revision
If you’re able to answer all of the questions with positive answers, you’re ready to move on to editing. However, if something’s missing the mark, you might want to consider writing a thesis for the opposing viewpoint to test the strength of your thesis. Compared to the opposing thesis, does yours lack strength? Consider rewriting the thesis to add strength to the rest of your essay.
Keep in mind that you might need more than one draft and revision before you’re completely satisfied with your essay. If you’re still having difficulties with the assignment, consider talking to your teacher. If this isn’t an academic assignment, try speaking to a few friends. Have them look over your essay, and ask them what they think.
Read this example essay on the drinking age, and ask yourself the above revising questions. Consider what you might change to make the essay stronger. This should give you a better perspective on why these items are so important to the persuasive essay. Here’s a couple of links to helpful revision tools you should consider using:
Step Four: Edit the Essay
Editing can be one of the easiest parts of writing your essay, especially with today’s most advanced tools. The idea behind this particular step is to find grammatical and mechanical errors. You’ve already gone through and revised sentences that are too long and things like that. This is to fix up those last-minute errors like misspelled words.
Most computer programs used for typing include built-in editing tools like spell check, and Microsoft Word also has a grammar check program. However, like any program, it can make errors. The two revision tools listed above can also be useful for editing so consider running your essay through them once more after revising. You can also have a friend look over the essay.
Step Five: Publish the Essay
This can mean different things depending on what your essay was for. If your essay was an assignment, publishing the essay will simply mean turning it in to the instructor. However, if you wrote this essay as a speech to present before an audience, publishing will have a different implication. If your essay is a speech, present that speech in front of the specified audience. That audience will depend on your essay’s topic.
If you didn’t really have a particular audience in mind and just wanted to share your opinion regarding the topic, consider posting it on a blog. In this modern age, studies have shown that people read blogs more often than they read the news so your essay may just reach the audience you had in mind whether you know it or not. If you wrote it well, you might just find many people swayed to your side of the topic or issue.