A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing An A+ Persuasive Essay
How to write an A-worthy essay quickly and painlessly
Writing essays for a grade can be frustrating, especially when you have to convince the reader to see things your way. It's especially frustrating if you have no idea how to write an effective persuasive essay. It's actually not a hard thing to do once you learn the basics. The steps/guidelines below will hopefully help you in at least one area of your writing.
Step 1: Topic
This is something everyone has to worry about, even if you've already been given a very narrowed down topic. You need to make sure you understand your topic and hold a firm ground on either one side or the other. If you're in the middle, make a list of all the arguments you could use for either side, then pick the side with that's the most convincing. You have to convince yourself before you can try to convince others. On the contrary, you may not have been given a specific topic at all. You may have just been given a book title and told to write a persuasive essay on it. Although this sounds like it's harder to do, it's actually better than you think. First, you need to look back on any of the internal or external conflicts that the characters faced. Try to pick one that you feel strongly in favor of one side AND one that is not too popular. You want your paper to stand out, meaning that you don't want to take the easy topic and have your paper reflect the same thing every one's paper does. If your topic is even more broad than that, the same guidelines apply. For example, if you were told to write a persuasive essay about the prison system, narrow that down to why the government should do more to help people once they get out of prison. The more you narrow your topic down, the less likely your paper will match another and the more likely the person grading it will be interested in what you have to say.
Step 2: Thesis
Before you do any other work, you need a thesis. The thesis is what will hold your essay together and what you should spend the most time on. The first thing you need to create a good thesis is you need to figure out your main arguments, which you have done while working on your topic. Most people think that you need to have three arguments. You absolutely don't. If you have two extremely strong arguments and one mediocre one, don't ruin the appeal of your argument by adding extra fluff. If it's not going to convince the reader to see your way, don't waste the space or the reader's time. On the hand, you may have four exceptional points, every one of them with the ability to change the reader's mind, so add them all. There is no specific formula to writing an essay. You don't have to have five paragraphs and three points every time. The person grading your paper will probably appreciate the fact that you deviated from the norm. Also, a thesis doesn't have to be one sentence. It can be as long as you need it to be. It should contain your topic, your side on the topic, and the reasons you support that side. Detail is good, but don't give away anything major in the thesis because that's what your body paragraphs are for.
Step 3: Attention Grabber
The attention grabber is in the introduction and will be used to get the reader interested. You will also come back to your attention grabber in the conclusion. The attention grabber can be a statistic, a saying, a famous quote or even a question. The attention grabber should be related to your essay, but it should be more broad than your topic. You will need a way to relate it back and lead up to your thesis. In your conclusion, it is best if you end the essay with how you started, although this time giving more insight. For example, if you asked a question in the introduction, answer it in the conclusion.
Step 4: Research
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You will need facts or quotes to back up your arguments. If you're writing about a book, most of your information will come from that. If you aren't, the Internet and the library are both good places to find solid evidence for your essay. You will need a bibliography if you are going to use any information that is not already in your head (which you pretty much have to). A good place to get your bibliography done is at easybib.com. They do all the hard stuff for you and it's completely free.
Step 5: Outline
Yes, I know that everyone hates outlines but they actually do help. You don't have to do anything too major in your outline, but there are some things that you should put down:
- Body Paragraphs
Your introduction should have:
- Attention Grabber
- Background on your topic
- Thesis Statement
Your body paragraphs should have:
- Your arguments/main points (each should have it's own paragraph)
- Your support for those arguments (comes from research, most of the time in the form of quotes or paraphrasing.
Your conclusion should have:
- A restatement of your thesis
- A level of higher thinking (showing insight on your topic that the reader will now understand after reading your paper, a.k.a. why your topic is important)
- Restatement of attention grabber, with added insight
Step 6: Putting It All Together
If you wrote a good outline, this part shouldn't be hard. All you need to add now are transition statements and possibly more background in places. Don't be afraid to deviate from your original outline as you're writing. You will think of more ideas as you are actually writing up the paper and those are normally your best ones.
- Do not refer to yourself or the reader EVER. "I", "you", "we", etc. Definitely forbidden.
- You can work on the outline over time, but when it comes to writing the essay, try to set aside a time that allows you to finish the writing in one sitting. Once you stop, you may not feel as motivated to continue at another time. If you must stop, don't stop in the middle of a sentence or paragraph because you will probably lose your train of thought.
- If you are absolutely stuck, get up and go to the bathroom or get a glass of water, but come straight back to the computer after. The break will give you just enough time to compose your thoughts, but too much time will get you distracted and you won't want to go back.
I hope this helps you with your essay. Happy Writing!