Persuasive Essays: How to Succeed at Argumentative Writing

persuasive essaysHow do you get your audience to agree with your thoughts, opinions, or stance on an issue if you are trying to reach them through writing?  Sounds like a persuasive essay might be what you’re thinking about.  A persuasive essay is a lot less “in-your-face” than a persuasive speech might be.  Still, if you are thinking about writing a persuasive essay, you are still going to want to convey your opinions about a certain topic in a way that shows you have a believable argument.

The good thing is that you do not have to be the best writer out there in order to have a great persuasive essay—you simply need to know how to effectively structure your arguments and your evidence to get your message across.  With this in mind, we are going to give you some steps on how to write a great persuasive essay, and also provide some handy topics for you to choose from.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay

Don’t Rush:  With any type of writing assignment, especially one where you are going to have to make and support an argument, you cannot afford to rush through the writing process.  Put as much effort as you can into your research and outline before you start writing out your argument.  Writing a persuasive essay requires you to brainstorm, write, and proofread.

Brainstorm:  Brainstorming is essential to writing a good persuasive essay because you are going to have to have a strong stance and opinion about a topic, and be able to fully support it.  Your view will be the overall foundation and pillar on which you paper stands.

Choose a topic:  Once you have done some brain storming, you are going to want to pick out a topic that you believe in, and that you would not mind arguing.  Here are some tips for choosing a good persuasive essay topic:

  • Pick something you believe in.  If you choose a topic that you are passionate about and one that really gets your opinion juices watering, you are going to have a better time (and more fun) writing your essay.
  • However, if you are stuck with something you do not care all that much about, decide which side of the argument you want to be on, because maybe you would rather argue against it.
  • Accept the fact that certain topics that interest you still might not be the best topics for persuasive essays.  For instance, even though you might be interested in a particular brand of handbags, that might not have enough depth or complexity to make it worth writing about.  Instead, look for a subject that would make for good subject material that you know your readers would take interest in as well.
  • Consider other viewpoints.  When you find a topic that you like, think about possible arguments against your topic.  If you cannot come up with any, then that may mean your stance might not be controversial enough to be considered a “persuasive essay”.  On the flip side, there could be too many different arguments you could make against an opinion; so choose wisely.

Start with an introduction:  No matter what you are writing, the introduction of any essay, speech, or article is going to be the most important part.  The introduction is either going to grab or lose your audience’s attention, so your best bet is to make it irresistible!  Remember that your introduction does not necessarily have to be long.  Instead it should make readers want to continue reading on.  Here are some things to keep in mind for your introduction:

  • Have a great hook:  Hook your readers with a sentence, question, fact, or quote that is going to draw them in.  You can even be humorous!  It doesn’t matter, just as long as your readers keep on reading.
  • Have a great thesis:  Make sure that your thesis statement is incorporated into your introduction.  It should basically summarize what you are going to argue for, and should pop up around the end of your introduction paragraph.  An effective thesis will combine a persuasive argument and a single powerful opinion.

Body paragraphs:  The body paragraphs of your essay should cover the main points that you are talking about and connect back to a part of your argument.  Your body paragraphs should do these things:

  • Justify your opinions and give evidence to support your claims.
  • Use facts as your evidence.  Facts that are from reliable sources are going to give your audience something to believe.
  • Consider using facts from different angles or different groups of people to support one argument.  This will help make it more believable.

Counterargument:  Not all persuasive essays require a rebuttal or counterargument.  However, adding these in may work to make your essay stronger.  A counter argument will give points of someone who might be arguing the opposite of what your opinion is.  Be sure to think of one or two more strong arguments against it.

Conclusion:  Time to wrap things up!  In a conclusion, you will generally restate the points you made and add a few integral thoughts for closing.  End with something that will stick in your reader’s minds.

Persuasive Essay Topics

Now, if you are feeling stuck on some good persuasive essay topics, here are a few that you might consider choosing:

  • Laws against saggy or droopy pants are unconstitutional.
  • Snow or rainy days are great for quality family time.
  • Too much money is always going to lead to bad things.
  • Teenagers should be required to take parenting classes.
  • High schools should offer specialized degrees in arts or sciences.
  • People should go to jail if they abandon their pets.
  • Children should be paid for receiving good grades.
  • Free speech should have its limitations.
  • Kids should have less homework from school.
  • Magazine advertisements send unhealthy signals and implications to young women.
  • We need more women in power.
  • Proper penmanship is important.
  • Proper etiquette should be taught in schools.
  • Spam mail should be prohibited.
  • Puerto Rico should be considered a state.
  • Shorter hair is better than longer hair.
  • Racial slurs should be illegal.
  • Recycling should be a mandatory requirement for everyone.
  • Gun ownership should be more tightly regulated.
  • Children should be required to read every day for one hour.
  • We should not have to pay for Internet access.
  • All students should be required to study abroad.
  • Yearly driving tests should be mandatory over a certain age.
  • Yearly driving tests should be mandatory for the first five years after you receive a license.
  • Cell phones should be required to be turned off while driving.
  • All schools should implement bullying awareness programs.
  • Bullies should be kicked out of school.
  • Parents of bullies should have to pay a fine.
  • The school year should be longer.
  • School days should start later in the day.
  • People should be required to carpool more.
  • They should allow pets in school.
  • We should all grow our own vegetables to improve health.
  • MP3 music should be free online.
  • Textbooks should be free to students.
  • Pregnant couples should receive free parenting lessons.
  • We should not use products made from animal skins.
  • Celebrities should have more privacy rights.
  • School tests are not effective in measuring a student’s ability.
  • We should all be required to give back to our communities.

Start Your Opinion Engines!

Writing is not easy, and writing a persuasive essay can seem even harder.  If you choose a topic that you are passionate about, however, you will find that your words will flow and your opinions will be clear if you follow a structure outline.  Remember to proofread and edit your essay before you turn it in, and check out this course for any shortcuts on how to make your persuasion clearer and more precise.