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.
The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2013-03-10 11:46:44
What is an argumentative essay?
The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.
Please note: Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE.
Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.
The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.
- A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.
In the first paragraph of an argument essay, students should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Next the author should explain why the topic is important (exigence) or why readers should care about the issue. Lastly, students should present the thesis statement. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.
- Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.
- Body paragraphs that include evidential support.
Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis (warrant).
However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date.
- Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).
The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.
- A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.
It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.
A complete argument
Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.
The five-paragraph essay
A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion.
Longer argumentative essays
Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay. Many of these factors will be determined by the assignment.