The point of writing a persuasive essay is – you guessed it – to persuade someone of something. This will be an easier task than writing an argumentative essay, which at first glance might seem the same type of work. It’s frowned upon, for instance, to use emotional tactics and personal stories to illustrate your points in an argumentative essay, but here it’s free game – you don’t have to go to a scientific journal for sources on this one.
Here’s how to write a good persuasive essay:
Start by choosing a stance
This essay is going to be centered around your position on an issue. Be it the death penalty or how the packets of peanuts on airplanes are too small, your position needs to be strong and your belief in it unshakeable – no matter what issue you’re taking the stance on. There’s nothing worse than reading a persuasive essay written by someone who doesn’t have a real conviction about whatever they’re writing.
Writing a persuasive essay outline is the next step
The structure will be familiar to you from the other essays you’ve written. An introduction (one or two paragraphs depending on the length of your essay), the body (at least three points), and a conclusion. If you feel tempted to play with the structure, do it at your own risk: be sure that your professor won’t lower your grade because of it. This basic structure is so widely used because it works, and if you try and make the task more exciting for yourself, know ahead of time that it might produce a structural fail.
Write the introduction
A good introduction to a persuasive essay is supposed to contain a hook – something your reader can latch onto immediately. Give them an obvious reason for reading your work. Try writing about why this issue is important, and why the matter needs to be discussed. If you decide to forgo the hook, your reader surely will be bored, and you’ll have to work extra hard in the following paragraphs to keep their attention.
Conclude the introductory paragraph by writing the thesis – this is your point, self-contained. Depending on the size and scope of your essay it might change in size, but it’s best to keep it to one sentence for the sake of brevity.
Crafting your body paragraphs comes next
Each body paragraph exists to support one aspect of your thesis. If your contention is that peanut packets on airplanes are too small, you divide the points you have to make and center your paragraphs around each one:
- The fact that passengers are often very hungry.
- The fact that diabetic passengers aren’t getting enough food to keep their blood sugar at a healthy level.
- How it’s wrong for airlines with million-dollar profits and million-dollar expenses decide to save some coins by not providing proper nourishment to passengers.
Take each point you have to make and dedicate a separate paragraph for it. This is not a thesis paper, so there is no need to include detailed, peer-reviewed studies to illustrate each point, but this doesn’t mean you can lie to persuade your reader. If you want to use a personal story about your diabetic aunt or about how you were hungry on your eight-hour flight on a meager peanut packet, this is fine in a persuasive essay, as long as your argument is compelling. If your argumentation is excerpted from somewhere else, remember to cite it properly.
Lastly, your ‘outro’ – the conclusion
If the body paragraphs you’ve just written are solid and well-defined, this part should follow naturally. The conclusion should be the culmination of everything you’ve written up to this point. Ideally, you’ve already convinced the reader of what you set out to say, but if by any chance you haven’t, this is your last chance to deliver the final blow.
Be careful not to introduce large chunks of new information here – this can make it feel like you’ve ended the essay on a body paragraph. Work your conclusion strongly, and treat it as your time to impress. In fact, it’s your only chance to write something memorable, and among other students being graded on basically the same writing work, you definitely want to stand out.
Hopefully, now you know what to do when it comes to writing a persuasive essay. As you can see, you’ll produce a great paper by being strongly opinionated, dividing and segmenting your points and illustrating them well. Lastly, you should double-check for grammar and spelling errors. And try not to leave your essay writing until the last minute – that’s sure to produce a dud of an essay that no one wants to read.