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How to Write a Persuasive Essay

by Nadia Archuleta

Many essays require persuasive techniques: Propose a position on a topic, then prove it in written form. A persuasive essay provides an opportunity for writers to display their comprehension of a topic as well as their views on it. An effective persuasive essay requires work to craft the key elements.

Thesis Statement

The foundation of a persuasive essay is the thesis statement. A strong thesis statement is both debatable and narrow enough to prove within the constraints of the essay. Though the thesis statement is just one sentence located in the introductory paragraph, everything in the essay must work to prove its validity. Depending on the assignment the writer may argue whether a fact has been settled, assert one event caused another or propose a solution to a problem. When writing a thesis statement ask what needs to be proven and construct one strong sentence stating that.

Persuasive Techniques

The pillars of persuasion relate to logical, emotional and ethical appeals. To argue logically use facts, statistics and quotes from experts in the field. Another logical technique is syllogism, testing two premises against each other and drawing a conclusion from the results. Appealing to readers’ emotions through anecdotes, deliberate word choice or even an appropriately used joke makes for effective persuasion. The goal is to put readers in a frame of mind for agreeing with the thesis. Readers don’t believe authors they don’t trust, so prove credibility with the level of research conducted, proofing for grammatical errors and acknowledging opposing opinions.

Counterargument

Ethics dictate addressing opposing points of view. Acknowledging the opposition’s side shows a deep understanding of the topic and enhances credibility. Furthermore, focus on the opposition’s strongest points and either refute them or attempt to put them in a different light favoring the argument being made. Counterargument can take the form of one paragraph acknowledging and refuting opposing points or as a thread throughout the body of an essay.

Writing Process

A persuasive essay is a crafted piece of writing. As such, adhere to the writing process. Collect support for the thesis statement, especially focusing on research. Plan the essay before even attempting the rough draft. Use a formal outline, a graphic organizer or another method of organization. After writing the essay go back and revise, preferably after some time. The revision process ensures arguments read the way they are intended. Check the essay for cohesion by ensuring all the topic sentences support the thesis statement and all the evidence in each paragraph supports the topic sentence. Proof for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors before submitting the essay.

About the Author

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.

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