Writing a persuasive essay is like being a lawyer arguing a case before a jury. The writer takes a stand on an issue—either “for” or “against”—and builds the strongest possible argument to win over the reader.
In a persuasive essay, it’s the writer’s job to convince the reader to accept a particular point of view or take a specific action. Persuasive essays require good research, awareness of the reader’s biases, and a solid understanding of both sides of the issue. A good persuasive essay demonstrates not only why the writer’s opinion is correct, but also why the opposing view is incorrect.
Persuasive writing is a fixture of modern life—found in advertising, newspaper editorials, blogs, and political speeches. Often persuasive writing assignments and test prompts concern contemporary issues, for example: “The school board is debating on whether or not to ban cell phone use in school. Write an essay convincing the board to adopt your position.” As shown in this persuasive writing prompt, the main purpose is not to inform, but to “persuade” or “convince” an audience (the school board) to think or act a certain way.
The Five-Step Writing Process for Persuasive Essays
At Time4Writing, we believe the five-step writing process is the best approach to learning how to write a persuasive essay. Here are persuasive essay tips for each phase of the writing process.
1. Prewriting for the Persuasive Essay
The prewriting phase of writing a persuasive essay is extremely important. During this phase, students should plan every aspect of the essay:
- Choose a position. Students should think about the issue and pick the side they wish to advocate.
- Understand the audience. In order to write an effective persuasive essay, the writer must understand the reader’s perspective. Is the reader undecided or inclined to favor one side or the other?
- Do the research. A persuasive essay depends upon solid, convincing evidence. Don’t rely on a single source. Go to the library and enlist the help of the librarian. Speak with community experts and teachers. Read and take notes. There is no substitute for knowledge of both sides of the issue.
- Identify the most convincing evidence, as well as the key points for the opposing view.