What is a persuasive ESSAY?
A persuasive text presents a point of view around topic or theme which is backed by evidence to support it.
The purpose of a persuasive text can be varied. Maybe you are intending to influence someones opinion on a specific topic or you might be aiming to sell a product or service.
The challenge in writing a good persuasive text is to use a mix of emotive language and in some cases images that are supported by hard evidence or other people's opinions.
In a persuasive essay, or argument essay, the student strives to convince the reader of the merits of their opinion or stance on a particular issue. To convince the reader of a point of view, or to take a specific action, the student must utilize a number of persuasive techniques to form a coherent and logical argument.
Persuading people requires a consistent approach...
Persuasive texts are simple in structure. You simply need to clearly state your opinion around a specific topic and then repeatedly reinforce you opinions with external facts or evidence. A strong concluding summary should leave little doubt about in the readers mind. ( Please view our planning tool below for a detailed explanation. )
In the introduction the student will, naturally, introduce the topic. Controversial issues make for great topics in this writing genre. It's something of a cliche in polite society to discourage discussions involving politics, sex, or religion for the reason that they can often be very divisive. While these subjects may not be the best topics of conversation for the dinner table at Thanksgiving, they can be perfect when deciding on a topic for persuasive writing. Obviously, the age and abilities of the students should be considered, as well as cultural taboos, when selecting a topic for the essay. But, the point holds, the more controversial, the better.
Let’s take a look at some of the key elements of the introduction:
This will often be posed as a question, for example, if the essay is on the merits of a vegetarian lifestyle it may be called something like: To Eat Meat or Not?
As with any genre of writing, capturing the reader's interest from the outset is crucial. There are a number of methods of doing this, known as hooks. Students may decide to open their essay with an anecdote, a joke, a quotation, or a relevant statistic related to the topic under discussion.
In this section of the introduction, students will provide the reader with some background to the topic. This will place the issue in context and briefly weigh up some of the different opinions on the subject.
After surveying the topic in the first part of the introduction, it is now time for the student writer to express their own opinion and briefly preview the points they will make later in the essay.
2. Body Paragraphs
The number of paragraphs that will form this section of the essay will depend on the number of points the writer chooses to make to support their opinion. Normally three main points will be sufficient for beginning writers to coordinate. For more advanced students, they can simply increase the number of paragraphs based on the complexity of their arguments, but the overall structure will largely remained intact.
The TEEL acronym is a useful way for students to remember how to structure their paragraphs. Read below for deeper understanding.
The topic sentence states the central point of the paragraph. This will be in the form of one of the reasons in support of the thesis statement made in the introduction.
These sentences will build on the topic sentence by illustrating the point further, often by making it more specific.
It is the purpose of these sentences to support the paragraph’s central point by providing supporting evidence and examples. This evidence may take the form of statistics, quotations, or anecdotal evidence.
The final part of the paragraph links back to the initial statement of the topic sentence, while also forming a bridge to the next point to be made. This part of the paragraph provides some personal analysis and interpretation of how the student arrived at their conclusions and also connects together the essay as a cohesive whole.
The conclusion weaves together the main points of the persuasive essay. It does not normally introduce any new arguments or evidence, but rather reviews the arguments made already and restates them by summing them up in a unique way. It is important at this stage to tie everything back to the initial thesis statement. This is the writer’s last opportunity to drive home their point; to achieve the goal of the essay to begin with - persuade the reader of their point of view.
Ending an essay well can be challenging, but, especially for persuasive essays, it is essential to end strongly. As with the hooks of the essay’s opening, there are a number of tried and tested methods of leaving the reader with a strong impression. Encourage students to experiment with different types of endings, for example, concluding the essay with a quotation that amplifies the thesis statement. Another method is to have the student rework their ending in simple monosyllabic words, as simple language often has the effect of being stronger in impact. The effect they are striving for in the final sentence is the closing of the circle.
There are a number of persuasive writing techniques that can be used to in the conclusion, and throughout the essay, to amp up the persuasive power of the writing. Let’s take a look at a few.
4. Persuasive Techniques
In this article we have outlined a basic structure that will be helpful to students in approaching the organization of their persuasive writing. It will also be helpful for the students to be introduced to a few literary techniques that will help your students to present their ideas in a convincing manner. Here are a few of the more common ones:
Repetition: There is a reason why advertisements and commercials are so repetitive - repetition works! Students can use this knowledge to their advantage in their persuasive writing. It is difficult to get the reader to fully agree with the writer’s opinion if they don’t fully understand it. Saying the same thing in a variety of ways ensures the reader gets many bites at the ‘understanding’ cherry.
Storytelling: Humans tend to understand things better through stories. Think of how we teach kids the important values through time-tested fables like Peter and the Wolf. Whether through personal anecdotes or reference to third person experiences, stories help climb down the ladder of abstraction and reach the reader on a human level.
Dealing with Dissent: We live in a cynical age, so leaving out the opposing opinion will smack of avoidance to the reader. Encourage your students to turn into that opposing viewpoint and deal with those arguments in their essay too.
A Call to Action: A staple of advertising, a call to action can also be used in persuasive writing. When employed, it usually forms part of the conclusion section of the essay and asks the reader to do something, such as, recycle, donate to charity, sign a petition etc.
A quick look around reveals to us the importance of the power of persuasion, whether in product advertisements, newspaper editorials, or political electioneering, persuasion plays an important role in our daily lives. Logic and reason are important in the persuasion process, but they are not the only techniques. The dark arts of persuasion can prey on emotion, greed, and bias. Learning to write persuasively can help our students to recognize well-made arguments, as well as help to inoculate them against the more sinister manifestations of persuasion.
Now, go persuade your students of the importance of perfecting the art of persuasive writing!
Tips for writing a great persuasive text
Persuasive Planning Tools
- Never leave any doubt about your position and point of view in the introduction.
- The stronger the evidence the stronger your argument will be. Take some time to find strong supporting evidence.
- Use paragraphs effectively. Each new element of your argument should start with a new paragraph.
- Play on your audiences feelings. Use strong and emotive language but never become irrational.
- Persuasive texts are always written in present tense.