What makes a good persuasive piece? It draws you in with the very first paragraph. It reaches out to you and acknowledges the validity of your opinion. Then it gently turns you around and shows you why you were wrong all along. You part as best friends, quite pleased with each other. Want to learn how to write a persuasive paper like this?
In this post, we will look into what a persuasive essay is, explain the writing process step-by-step, lay out the structure of a clear, compelling text, and give some exclusive tips that will help you excel in this type of wiring.
What Is Persuasive Writing in General and Persuasive Essay in Particular?
There are four main styles of writing: narrative, expository, descriptive, and persuasive. Arguably, the persuasive style is the most ancient one since the initial purpose of the language itself is influencing the minds of the people around and through them, shaping reality to fit our vision. Examples of persuasive writing include opinion pieces in magazines, editorials, letters of recommendation, and, of course, argumentative and persuasive essays.
However, even texts written in another style often include at least one persuasive paragraph. For example, an expository essay aiming to inform the readers will urge them to learn more about the topic in the conclusion. Introduction can also have persuasive meaning since its goal is to impose the importance of the subject and spark interest in readers.
A persuasive essay is a piece of academic writing that attempts to persuade a reader using logic and reason to adopt a certain opinion or take action. Persuasive essay definition might sound very similar to argumentative essay. However, a persuasive essay allows you more freedom of expression. With an argumentative paper, you are bound by data, facts, and logic. Whereas characteristics of persuasive essay include emotionality, figurative language, symbolism, appeals to moral values, feelings, concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, etc. You must still provide evidence and appeal to reason, but you are not limited to these means.
So, ultimately, what is the purpose of a persuasive essay? The minimum aim is to convince the reader of the validity of a particular opinion. The foremost goal is to change their mind and make them accept this opinion as their own, winning the readers on your side of the argument.
Steps to Writing a Persuasive Essay
How do you write a persuasive essay that has perfect impact? It’s a bit more complicated than simply letting the world know your opinion. Without careful planning, you risk just ranting for the entire allowed word count. Here are the steps to take if you want to build a strong persuasive essay.
- Select your topic
If you are given several prompts in your assignment sheet, choose one that is meaningful to you. Having stakes in the matter spurs creativity. Moreover, you will be genuinely interested and engaged at all stages of your writing process.
- Find the purpose
Persuasive essay topics are not always as straightforward as “Do you support or oppose X?” Sometimes, they are more open-ended, asking you, “What are your thoughts on X?” or “In your opinion, is X significant and why?” Think carefully, which side of the issue you will write about, and what solution to the problem you will offer. Find the purpose – the standpoint you are going to defend. This will be your thesis statement.
- Analyze your audience
For any text, the intended audience is central. Still, for a persuasive essay, it’s critical to understand whose opinion you are attempting to sway. Determine if your audience agrees with you, opposes your position, or is neutral/hesitant. Ask yourself, “How can I write my paper in a way that not only reflects my point of view but influences my readers?”
- Do your research
First, you must provide specific evidence to back your claims. However, you must also research the opposing side’s arguments to be able to refute them. Research your audience’s values and opinions that carry authority to them. This will give you points of influence, something to appeal to and use to your advantage.
- Structure your essay
Now it’s time to outline your paper. Below you will find the basic structure we suggest. It is based on the classical 5-paragraph essay. “But is it any use if I had to write my assignment on 5 or 10 pages? Can I write my dissertation in a persuasive manner using this outline?” Absolutely! This scheme is universal. Use it creatively, rearrange some parts for dramatic effect, or expand each element from a paragraph to a chapter.
Classic Persuasive Essay Structure
Here is how to structure a persuasive essay in a classical, most common way. This is not the only one, but you can start from here and add your own spin on this tried and true model.
Present the topic of your essay and your thesis statement (what you have to say about the topic). The thesis statement is usually found at the end of the introduction. However, you can open your text with your central claim as a rhetoric device, taking your audience by surprise and off-guard, so to speak. Think Cicero and his opening line to First Speech Against Catiline: “When, O Catiline, do you mean to cease abusing our patience?” One heck of a one-liner! All persuasive essay elements can work towards your main goal.
- Presentation of the case
Now you must describe the problem, situation, or the issue in its current state. Present the facts. Of course, this being a persuasive essay, you can use elements of creative writing to paint a vivid picture. You don’t have to be 100% objective. Set the scene in a way that is favorable for your further argument. Give facts that support your side. However, make sure they are solid facts from trusted scholarly or governmental sources. Don’t forget to cite all the information your use.
- Proof of your thesis
This is one of the crucial parts of a persuasive essay. Here you must arrange facts in a sequence that builds the argument toward your most important point. If you have listed the key points in the introduction, follow the same pattern in this paragraph: the first issue mentioned in the introductory paragraph should be the first addressed here, and so on. The most effective way to organize all the components for a persuasive effect is a crescendo from the least important to the most important point. Build up the momentum.
- Refutation of the opposing arguments
This is an optional paragraph, but it can add effectiveness. One way of changing your opponent’s mind is showing that their arguments are flawed. Here the emotional component of your rhetoric should be aimed at establishing common ground with the opponents, highlighting shared values and desire for the truth. Then, use evidence to point out biases and inconsistencies in the reasoning of your opponents, dismantling their arguments.
The conclusion to a persuasive essay should never be merely a summary. Here you must reaffirm your thesis statement and show that it is proven. Remind yourself of this text’s purpose and the audience you are trying to influence. This will help you decide on what note you want to finish. Ask a thought-provoking question, appeal to a certain sentiment or reason – whichever serves your ends better.
Tips for Writing a Persuasive Essay
Now you know basic methods and persuasive strategies in writing enough to put together a solid essay. Yet how to write a great persuasive essay? Here are some more subtle persuasive essay tips.
- Make sure you use up-to-date sources
Being well-informed is vital for any argument. Read and takes notes before you start writing – don’t rely only on your knowledge of the topic. Make sure that the facts and statistics you use are recent. Academic knowledge is dynamic – studies test theories and overturn them, contradicting evidence emerges, common believes get disproven all the time.
- Test your thesis
Your main claim must be debatable, i.e., it must be one of several possible points of view on the matter. If you can come up with a claim that opposes yours, your argument is debatable. It can be used as a thesis for a persuasive essay.
- Use relatable examples
Examples give life to your ideas. They are easy to understand, vivid, and often enhance the meaning of our argument. However, to be more persuasive, tailor your examples to fit your audience. Make sure you use examples that your readers will find relatable.
- Empathy is vital
You must understand your audience and see where they are coming from with their opinion. You can rarely persuade people by attacking their position and denying it any validity. Excellent persuasive essays build bridges – not hurl rocks at the opposite side of the ravine.
- Don’t confuse facts and truths
Widespread mistake students make in persuasive essays is trying to back their claim with truths rather than facts. A “truth” is an idea believed by most (or many) people. However, it cannot be proven since it lies in the plane of religion, philosophy, or art. For example, “Motherhood brings joy” or “Music educates feelings.” Appeals to truths do have persuasive power. However, you shouldn’t confuse truths with concrete evidence.
How to Choose the Persuasive Essay Format
A persuasive essay doesn’t have any requirements for formatting distinct from the style used for other academic papers. You should format it as you normally do for other essay types: title page (or just heading), running head (or no running head), single-spaced or double-spaced, etc. If you were not given any specific instructions in your assignment sheet, follow this hierarchy of formatting requirements as guidance:
- Course requirements given by your instructor. Check the handouts you received at the start of the class. Those handy little things are often disregarded.
- Formatting style accepted as a standard in your college. Contact your school’s writing center to learn which manual is preferred (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, etc.)
- Style accepted as default in the subject area. The persuasive writing style is ubiquitous and can be found in any discipline: Nursing, Law, Sociology, History, etc. See which formatting pattern is commonly accepted in your field when in doubt.
- Turn to a professional editor. If you don’t know how to format a persuasive essay, you can send us your draft and request editing services. We can also prepare a customized sample written from scratch per your requirements.
A persuasive essay is one of the most interesting academic papers combining research discipline, logical reasoning, rhetoric devices, and creativity. Hopefully, this guide has made this format clearer to you. Wield your newly gained persuasive power wisely, don’t try to conquer the world or anything. Maybe make it a better place.