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Components of Writing a Persuasive Essay

Components of Writing a Persuasive Essay
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  • 0:00 What Is Persuasive Writing?
  • 1:02 The Goals of…
  • 1:52 How to Write a…
  • 3:37 The Components of a…
  • 4:38 Applying the Steps: An Example
  • 5:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

In this lesson, we will define persuasive writing, look at the different goals of a persuasive essay, and then discuss how to plan and develop a persuasive topic.

What Is Persuasive Writing?

We all have opinions, and throughout a day, we all probably have at least one disagreement because of our opinions. These can be something as simple as the best place to eat, the best route to take home, or even what celebrity wore it best. There are also those opinions we have that are more complex: our political, values, and beliefs. These ideas become a part of who we are, and those that are much more difficult to change. As we learn in our everyday life, most topics have at last two sides. No matter what you believe in terms of politics, there is someone out there who thinks quite the opposite is true. Have an opinion on health care? Someone else thinks differently. The same idea is true in writing.

Persuasive writing, or argumentative writing, is an essay centered on an opinion. In this type of essay, the author is trying to convince the audience that his/her viewpoint is correct. The hope is for the audience to agree with the author's opinion.

The Goals of Persuasive Writing

There are several different goals of persuasive writing.

Change an Opinion or Belief

This is probably the most common type of persuasive essay. In this essay, the author creates an argument centered on his/her opinion and finds facts to support that point of view.

Change a Habit

The author chooses a topic and encourages the audience to change behavior. For example, wear a seatbelt, wash your hands more often, or exercise more.

Take Action

In this essay, the author is encouraging the audience to do something. For example, take the action to vote or to recycle more.

Write a Proposal

This is more common in workplace or technical writing. In this essay, an author would present an idea and persuade the audience to allow something to take place or do further research.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay

The first step to writing a persuasive essay is to choose your topic. The topic must be debatable, which means there must be more than one viewpoint. While most people automatically think of the controversial or political topics, you do not always need to be shocking. Try to think of things you experience every day or something that you feel strongly about. The best arguments come from experience. It is also a good idea to avoid the tired or exhausted topics. These are topics that have been argued for quite some time, making it difficult to develop a unique, original point of view.

Next, develop your thesis. The thesis should be your central argument, what you hope to convince your audience to believe, change, or do. Avoid 'I believe' statements. Rather, state your topic and point of view. For example, if you are writing an essay to say that news coverage should not be on a 24-hour cycle, then this would be the start of your thesis.

Third, think of your main reasons. Why should your audience change their opinion? Why should they agree with your position? Look at your thesis and then answer these questions. Try to develop at least three or four good reasons to support your point of view. These will become the body of your essay, your topic sentences, and the focus of your research. A topic sentence is the first sentence of a new paragraph, and it introduces what the paragraph will be about. It is a good idea to create a working outline at this point. List your thesis and the main points you have to begin brainstorming the supporting ideas.

After you have a working outline, start your research. When writing a persuasive essay, it is important to argue with facts. Find facts to support your point of view. Look for experts in the field and current statistics.

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