Persuasive Writing(http://www.ereadingworksheets.com/) Click on the green links for further information.
The goal of writing a persuasive essay is to persuade or convince the reader to believe something. Writers do this through the use of logical arguments and emotional appeals. While there is no one correct way to write these essays, this page will show you some good practices to consider when learning how to write a persuasive essay.
The introductory paragraph is the first-paragraph in the persuasive essay. I teach my students that their introductory paragraphs should have three parts: an attention-catcher, a thesis, and a preview. The introductory paragraph is perhaps the most important paragraph in the essay because it is the first and possibly last chance to make an impact on the reader. It should clearly express the subject of the essay as well as the writer’s position. While it is generally not required, previewing the main points shows readers that the paper has been thoughtfully composed rather than free formed. Every introductory paragraph should begin with an attention catcher.
Attention CatchersThe attention catcher or lead should be the first sentence in the persuasive essay. It is the writer’s first chance to make an impression on the reader, so it should not be spent thoughtlessly. A good attention catcher is angled in a way that immediately pushes the reader toward the writer’s position.
Thesis (Argument/ opinion)A thesis is a clearly worded statement telling readers exactly what the writer intends to do in the essay. Good persuasive writing does not make the reader guess as to what the author’s intentions were. The writer’s intent should be made very clear. The best place to do this is immediately after the attention catcher. After gaining the reader’s interest, clearly state the position of your essay, as in the following example:
Do you think students should be forced to wear pants when it is over 100 degrees? Of course not. Students should not have to wear uniforms.
The emboldened text represents the thesis or central argument in the essay. Every sentence should in some way connect to that central argument. Any sentence that is not furthering the argument is distracting from it and should be removed. Clearly state your thesis in your introductory paragraph and spend the rest of the essay trying to support it.
Preview of Main PointsThe preview briefly states the main points that will be argued in the essay. The preview is not where the arguments are developed. The preview merely summarises each point in as few words as possible.
The term body refers to all paragraphs after the introduction and before the conclusion. Each body paragraph should focus on one argument, called the main point. Though I encourage students to have three body paragraphs, it is certainly possible to write a successful essay with more or fewer body paragraphs.. All of the main points should be concisely stated in the preview. An appropriately structured five-paragraph essay will preview three main points. It is important for writers to preview their main points in the exact order that they will be developed. For example, if I claim that my essay will argue square, circle, and triangle, then my first body paragraph should be about squares, my second should be about circles, and my third should be about triangles.
Topic SentencesTopic sentences clearly state the purpose of the paragraph. Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence. A topic sentence may or may not restate your thesis or position but always should state the paragraph’s central argument. When writing a persuasive essay, do not attempt to build suspense by keeping secrets from the reader. Write topic sentences that are clear, direct, and upfront about your purpose.
Students should not have to wear school uniforms because they limit students’ ability to express their individuality.
Notice that this example has two parts: the orange coloured text restates the thesis of the essay and the purple text is the main point. The rest of the paragraph should argue the main point.
Supporting DetailsSupporting details are arguments, examples, or descriptions that justify, explain and develop main points. Use the following phrases to help you connect your thoughts clearly:
- What I mean by this is…
- Another way to say this is…
- This connects to my argument because…
- The reason for this is that…
- To put it another way…
- This shows that…
- This is important because…
- For example…
Making the Connection - the last sentence in each paragraphMaking the connection is when the last sentence in a body paragraph connects the support back to the main point. Think of the prosecutor in a criminal case: the attorney doesn’t just say, “There were some blood drops in the defendant's car,” and then end his argument. Having evidence is not enough. The prosecutor must explain what the evidence shows. Likewise, writers need to explain what their evidence shows to make the connection. Don’t make the readers draw their own conclusions - that’s your job.
We should not have to wear school uniforms because they limit our ability to express our individuality. What I mean by this is that students have the right to express who they are and how they are feeling. One of the most important ways they do this is through dress. This is how we show the world who we are, particularly in an environment where we are forced to be quiet for 90% of the day. Our fashion makes a unique statement. If students are forced to wear uniforms, their ability to express themselves will be severely limited. Schools should promote student expression not restrict it. Because of this, we should not have to wear uniforms.
This paragraph begins well by clearly stating the position on the topic and the main point of the paragraph. The paragraph is well developed with logical arguments, and then it closes strongly. Bringing the argument back to the topic sentence is an essential and often overlooked step. By connecting the support to the main point, writers help readers make the connection. This is entirely essential to writing excellent paragraphs.
Concluding ParagraphsThe conclusion is the last paragraph in the persuasive essay. A good conclusion will not only restate the main points of the argument, it will bringing something new to the table and end with strength and resolution. It’s been compellingly argued that readers or listeners best remember the first and last things stated. With this notion in mind, you should allot yourself an appropriate amount of time to craft a resonant introduction and conclusion. One way to write a strong concluding paragraph is to restate the thesis and main points of the essay, but then attempt to leave a strong impression on the reader by ending on a clinching statement.
Restatement of PointsA restatement of points is when the writer briefly reviews the main points of their argument. It is very similar to the preview in the introduction but, while maintaining the sequence of the arguments, the writer should not repeat it word for word.
Clinching StatementsThe clinching statement is the last idea in the persuasive essay. Since it is your final opportunity to leave an impression on the reader, you should attempt to close with finesse. Here is a list of a few techniques that may help you end your persuasive essays more effectively:
The Better World:The writer attempts to describe an idyllic scenario that will occur if their proposal is accepted.
Example: If students aren’t forced to wear uniforms, our school will have a much more pleasant and productive environment in which everyone will learn and grow.
The Worst Case Scenario:The writer again attempts to describe a scenario, this time imagining how bad the world might become if their proposal is rejected. Fear is a highly motivating emotion, so the writer should strive to make their scenario as frightful as possible without sounding ridiculous.
Example: If students are required to wear uniforms, the environment of our school will become drab and colourless, and the structure of our hallowed institution will be further from a college and closer to a prison.
The Call to Action: Another good way to end your essay is to ask or demand that your reader take some action in support of your proposal. The scope of your call is dependent on the topic.
Example: If you understand how important it is for students to have the right to dress themselves, it is your civic duty to attend your local school counsel meeting and demand that this proposal be rejected.