Wednesday, 16 May 2012

How To Write A Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay is an essay that tries to persuade the reader to take a position on an issue. This may be an issue that's currently in the news such as the war in Afghanistan, or health care, or it may be an issue that never seems to die, such as abortion or gun control. In any case, these are topics on which people hold diverging opinions and which do not have clear answers.
Sometimes persuasive essays are called "argumentative essays" because you are arguing for or against a point of view. Think of the topic of a persuasive essay as something two people in a bar might get into an argument over. It's so much more civilized to write it out in an essay. The point in writing a persuasive essay is to research facts to back up opinions and to present these facts in a logical manner.
Literary or history essays can also be persuasive essays because they try to persuade a reader to agree with a particular interpretation of a work or of events.
At one time rhetoric was one of the cornerstones of a classic education. Gentlemen (and I mean this: ladies and the lower classes were not educated) were taught to debate. They were taught the elements of logic and how to apply it in making arguments. These days we simply ask students to write on a controversial topic. Most are up to the task. Some fail utterly to differentiate between opinion and fact. Some fail to arrange their arguments logically. Some don?t seem to want to take a stand.
An important part of a persuasive essay is to know where you stand and what you want your reader to believe at the end of the argument. Never sit on the fence. Even if the opposing arguments are good, and often they are, you must be sure where you stand on the issue. This is your thesis. Check out the page on thesis statements
A persuasive essay takes the following structure: introduction, body, conclusion. The introduction provides the reader with some basic background information. It may begin with a quote, a statistic or a general statement. The introduction gives the thesis statement?the statement that the author intends to prove, or the point of view that he/she is defending. The body provides the evidence. The conclusion sums up, taking into account the presented evidence. See the page on: essay structure.
There is a special type of persuasive essay called a Rogerian persuasive essay. There is a separate article on how to write this type of essay.
In the body of the essay, the writer presents the strongest facts in support of the argument. A good persuasive essay will also examine the evidence that supports the opposite conclusion. It will attempt to undermine this evidence by presenting alternative interpretations, additional facts or expert commentary. It is important to acknowledge the existence of these alternative points of view because readers may start off being sympathetic to these points of view and if you simply attack them or treat them without respect you will alienate these readers instead of persuading them.
It could be argued that most essays are persuasive essays. Sometimes an essay is about a topic that's not controversial, except to a select group of people. For example no one gets into a fight at a bar over whether TS Eliot's "The Wasteland" was an ode to marriage or an ode against marriage. You might be able to raise a few hackles at an English department meeting, but to the average man on the street, who rarely contemplates interpretation of early imagist poetry, it's a moot point. Nonetheless it's a valid topic for an essay to take a stand on. Similarly, Marx's interpretation of the Sino-Russian split, or A History of Western Table Manners would each have a thesis statement to be proved and a series of arguments to back up that thesis statement.
In sum, a persuasive essay is one in which you are deliberately setting out to persuade a reader to believe your point of view is correct.