Your guide to writing a Persuasive Essay
In persuasive writing, the author is trying to convince the audience to agree with a point of view. Persuasive essay writing differs from an academic argument in that an academic argument uses reason and logic to persuade its readers while a persuasive paper may rely on other techniques such as emotion. Persuasive writing examples can be found in newspapers or magazines. An opinion piece about an election or articles one on side of controversial issues like the death penalty, animal rights or abortion would all be examples of persuasive writing.
The thesis statement for a persuasive essay should be placed in the introduction. It’s often the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. A thesis tells the main idea of the paper and in the case of a persuasive paper must state the writer’s position. It may also include the reasons the writer will use to support that position. The reasons must be listed in the same order they’re discussed in the paper. This is because a thesis also serves as a map for the paper’s structure.
For example, a student writing a persuasive essay arguing that high school seniors should be allowed to leave campus for lunch might use this as a thesis statement: High school seniors should be allowed to leave campus for lunch because they have earned the privilege, it’s an opportunity for them to be more responsible and the off-campus lunch options are more nutritious.
The body of a persuasive essay should consist of paragraphs developing the reasons that support the writer’s position. Each paragraph needs to focus on one main idea although the writer may spend several paragraphs discussing each reason. In fact, college writers should begin moving away from the five-paragraph essay structure they may have learned in high school and work on writing longer, more complex papers. However, the basic paragraph structure remains unchanged. A topic sentence should indicate the main idea of the paragraph. Often this is the paragraph's first sentence. The rest of the paragraph should stay focused on developing that idea.
A writer can use a variety of techniques to persuade the audience. This support might play on the readers' emotions. For example, a paper arguing against testing cosmetics on animals might include descriptions of the suffering caused by such testing to sway the audience.
Logic and statistics are also effective. For example, a reader will be more convinced that high school seniors should leave the campus for lunches if the writer can produce solid studies demonstrating a wider availability of nutritional options off campus. Using facts and studies increases a writer’s credibility because they demonstrate that other people have examined the issue and made conclusions based on evidence.
Persuasive writing techniques include the shrewd use of vocabulary. Words can be chosen carefully to persuade readers in subtle ways. For example, for a paper on animal rights, describing laboratory animals as being “slaughtered” at the end of an experiment will evoke a stronger reaction in the reader than saying that the animals are put down or euthanized.
It’s important that a writer show how the different parts of the paper are related to one another. This not only brings unity to a piece of writing but makes the writing itself flow smoothly.
Transition words like “consequently” and “therefore” show causal connections between ideas. Using key words and concepts can also bridge paragraphs. For example, a writer who has just finished arguing that seniors who leave campus for lunch are more responsible and is preparing to argue that there are better nutritional options outside of the school might begin discussing the new reason with a sentence like this: In addition to giving seniors more responsibility, allowing them to leave campus permits them to make better nutritional choices.
For the conclusion of a persuasive paper, the writer should reinforce the position taken. A conclusion needs to summarize the main points of the paper and wrap it up for the reader. A call to action is another way that a persuasive paper differs from an academic argument. Persuasive writing often exhorts the reader not only to agree with the writer but to do something. In the conclusion of the persuasive paper about seniors leaving campus, a writer might urge the reader to speak to school administrators about making this a new rule.