In the past, you may have confused a persuasive essay with an argumentative essay. In fact, many people still confuse these two. They argue that knowing how to write a persuasive essay is the same as knowing how to write an argumentative one. Writing a persuasive essay requires one distinct skill: the ability to persuade regardless of the nature of your topic. Unlike an argumentative essay that relies more on a structured argument backed up by facts, writing a persuasive essay, on top of utilizing truthful facts, requires skill with words, but this time the words must appeal purely to the emotion of the reader. Get the reader to accept, understand, and agree with your viewpoint or recommendation – that is the aim of a persuasive essay.
The organizing part
As in other forms of essay, it is written in the first person and has the same parts:
- Title. The title should be convincing and gives an idea about your viewpoint.
- Introduction. Since your aim is to persuade, your essay hook should be perfect and must capture the attention of the reader. It should be direct, persuasive and must contain an overview of your thesis statement or viewpoint. This is the most crucial part because you are aiming to grab the reader and never let go until he has finished and changed his mind already.
- The body. This contains all your points and arguments that back up your viewpoint. Ideally, a paragraph in the body must contain these in this particular order: your argument, followed by the opposing argument and then the supporting evidence and why you are in agreement with it. The length of the body/number of paragraphs depends on the word count requirement. Do this in the following paragraphs.
- Conclusion. Repeating the main viewpoint and the backing evidence is the aim of the conclusion. This is where your persuasion should be at its strongest, the point where you should be successful in changing the mind of the reader.
The writing part
- Know your stance. Research about the issue and once you know you have a side, study it and be aware of its pros and cons. You must minimize the loopholes that might be found by your readers. A persuasive essay that has obvious loopholes is likely to be dismissed by the reader.
- Emotion. Content is content but the technique is everything. The technique you must master is emotion. You must be full of emotions first before writing so that they are transmitted into your words. The more emotional your words are, the closer the reader is to accept your viewpoint as true and right. When illustrating the issue and your viewpoint, use emotional words. For example, instead of writing “due to allegations of a leakage, architecture graduates who passed the state board will have to retake next year,” write “dreams of aspiring architects crumble temporarily as they first have to endure an agonizing wait until next year’s board examinations.” Did you exaggerate the issue to the point of dramatic? Yes. But does it have an impact on the reader? Most certainly, because you have shown how bad it had gone.
- Powers of Persuasion. One way to persuade is to tell a story related to the issue so the reader gets a feel of your viewpoint. Another is repetition. It’s the most common way of stressing emphasis. The more you repeat your viewpoint and why you think it is right, the more it appeals to the emotion of the reader, and yes, the more he begins to think alike.
- Personal Touch. As stated earlier, a persuasive essay is written in the first person because you are not merely asking them to read it – you are talking to them, you are letting them inside your thoughts. For example, writing “many people’s lives will be negatively affected by this scandal in the years to come” is not as convincing as “your life and your loved ones’ lives will be ruined by this disgraceful scandal until heaven knows when.” See the difference?
Writing a persuasive essay is an approach that involves more than writing. It involves an assessment of the issue, your own opinion, and the emotion of the reader.
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