Prewriting

Understand the assignment

In your essay, you will state an opinion about an academic topic and persuade readers to agree with your opinion.

Research

Remember that after you do enough preliminary research to brainstorm and choose your focus, you should do more detailed research about your topic so that you can make your outline.

When you research for a persuasive essay, look for the opinions of the supporters, but also look for the opinions of the opponents. To best support your opinion, you will need to consider all of your audience, even those who have different opinions. Strong support often acknowledges the opposite point of view.

Brainstorm

You can use a mind map, a free write, general internet search, or a discussion group if you are having a difficult time thinking of things to write about.

Example topics could include the following:

Brainstorming Guiding Questions

As you brainstorm, you may want to consider the following questions:

1. Opinion: What do I think?

2. Reason: Why do I think it?

3. Evidence: How do I know? 

4. Appeal: How can I convince my reader of my opinion?

Questions 1-3 adapted from (Sedita, 2017, para. 7)

Note: Switching Topics

While it is okay to choose a personally difficult or sensitive topic to write your essay on if given the choice of choosing your own topic, you may find it more difficult as you continue researching, writing, and revising. It is okay in those situations to talk with your teacher and switch your essay topic to a different one. If you feel comfortable writing about the topic, feel free to continue to do so, but if dealing with that topic becomes too much, it is okay to change topics.

Choose your focus

Make sure the topic isn't too broad to cover in your essay. If you choose to state a broad opinion, you will need a lot of evidence to support the broad opinion that you have. Furthermore, when you have a broad topic, your readers will likely have more doubts about your opinion because they can think of more exceptions or other reasons that your opinion might not be true. Therefore, it is easier to defend an opinion with a more narrow focus and to do so with the time and word count restraints of a school assignment.

Find Your Focus

You can use these questions to find the focus of your essay:

As you determine your focus, also determine which of the effective rhetoric appeals would best help you support the narrowed topic you choose. Would ethos, pathos, or logos best convince your reader that your opinion is right? You can use one, two, or all three appeals if you think it will help your argument. For more information on effective rhetoric Purdue OWL's resources on this topic. 

Outline

Also, begin an outline for your essay. As you research your topic, start organizing your findings. Some people begin an outline by listing topics and quotes. Others write topic sentences and supporting sentences. A persuasive essay follows typical essay organization, but you may find the body paragraphs don't always follow the regular 5-paragraph essay rules. You may need to plan for more or fewer body paragraphs depending on the support you need for your opinion. 

Introduction

Your introduction should start by describing any background that will be important for the reader to know.

Here are some questions that can help you think about background information that the reader needs to be able to understand the problem:

At the end of your introduction paragraph, you should give your thesis. The thesis should clearly state the opinion that you will defend in your essay.

Example

Thesis Statement: In order to both educate teens about life as a parent and to help prevent teenage pregnancy, high school students should be required to complete parenting classes.

https://www.kibin.com/essay-writing-blog/persuasive-thesis-statement-examples/

Review the characteristics of an effective thesis as needed. For a persuasive essay, it is especially important that you don't simply state a fact; your thesis should be an opinion. You can tell if it is an opinion by asking if someone else could have a different opinion on the topic. For example, "Soccer is a sport." is a fact, but "Soccer is the best sport ever." is an opinion. Someone else could think that basketball or some other sport is the best sport, so you can tell it is an opinion.

Effective Thesis Statement Review

An effective thesis statement...

1 Exercise: Revise thesis statements

  1. Technology makes people feel more alone for several reasons.

Body

Your body paragraphs should give reasons that support your thesis. As you plan your essay, you should think about what type of appeal you will use to convince your reader your opinion is correct. You will need to use effective rhetoric to convince the reader.

Rhetoric is "the art of speaking or writing effectively" using principles of composition made by ancient critics to communicate and persuade (Merriam-Webster, 2022). Rhetoric was created by the ancient Greeks to effectively communicate and persuade (Sloane and Perelman, 2022). Aristotle, a famous Greek philosopher, divided rhetorical appeals into what we now call ethos, pathos, and logos (Sloane and Perelman, 2022). 

Ethos is the appeal to authority. This is where you use experts or show yourself to be an expert in order to get the reader to trust you and believe your opinion. 

Pathos is the appeal to emotion. This is where you use the emotions of the reader, specifically their emotional response to what you write, to convince them to agree with your opinion

Logos is the appeal to logic. This is where you use logical reasoning and evidence to show readers why they should believe your opinion. This is one of the most common appeals you will use in academic writing. 

Examples

Appeal

Example

Ethos

A commercial for basketball shoes that features a celebrity basketball player saying how great the shoes are. 

Pathos

Telling a sad story about dogs in animal shelters to convince people not to give dogs as surprise presents. 

Logos

Explaining that everyone should drive more carefully in winter weather because accidents increase by X% with snow on the roads. 

As you try to persuade your reader, you can use these appeals to convince them. You can use one, two, or all of the appeals in the defense of your opinion. 

Optional Opposition Paragraph

Another way to support your opinion in the body paragraphs is actually to add a counterargument that shows how other people may disagree with you. This is optional in a persuasive essay. You follow this counter-argument with your reply or rebuttal about why your opinion is still good despite what the other opinion may be. This can be done in its own paragraph(s) or worked into the supporting paragraphs. A counterargument is usually followed by evidence for the counterargument and then a rebuttal with evidence for the rebuttal. When writing the counterargument, make sure you keep a respectful tone in your writing.

Example Opposition Paragraph:

1. Counterargument

Some people say that regulations on guns are unwise because....

2. Evidence

The evidence they offer in opposition to these regulations includes....

3. Rebuttal However, ...
4. Evidence There is evidence to support this such as...

If you use a counterclaim, you will want your counterclaim to be strong so your rebuttal can stand out and give really good support to your opinion. If you give a good rebuttal to a strong and fairly presented counterclaim, your opinion will be even more convincing to the reader. 

Conclusion

Your conclusion paragraph should start by restating your thesis to remind your reader of your main idea, your opinion. Then you should discuss your problem more generally and apply your opinion to the general context you established in your introduction. The middle part of your conclusion could be a summary or it could build on the information from your body paragraphs to apply the ideas of your essay to a bigger community. 

You can end with a closing statement that is a suggestion, prediction, or opinion.  For persuasive essays, you might also try using a call to action, asking your readers to join you in your cause. 

Call to Action Examples:

Exercises

Exercise 3: Make an Outline

Make an outline for the example essay "... (link)" at the start of this unit. 

Exercise 4: Build an Outline

Make an outline for an essay with the following prompt.

Prompt: What is one way students should study? Support your answer with reasons and details. 

Your outline could include any of the following parts in the order that you think would be most effective for convincing people of your opinion. 

Optional 

Exercise 5: Revise Thesis Statements

Revise the thesis statements to be more effective for an argumentative essay.

  1. The following paragraphs will talk about the three main negative effects of social media plays: first, how social media is an emerge of a new clinical disorder, second, why there are symptoms such as depression and self-esteem and finally, how social media affects student's mental health.
  2. Health and environmental consequences are the issues to discuss.
  3. Some students believe that college education does not have benefits. Some people disagree. They think people who earn a college degree make more money, they have better and more employment opportunities, and they are healthier and live longer.
  4. The vaccines are been our friends for many years for their many speculate benefits.
  5. The chance to make a better choice can increase significantly.
  6. For example, streamers become an important influence within young people, use communication platforms as a job to earn money and become fictionally a celebrity for the medium where they present themselves.
  7. I will explain why governments should be involved in censoring websites that are used for social media purposes.
  8. Human activity contributes to many global problems.

Exercise 6: Practice Thesis Statements

Read the titles of persuasive essays below.  Consider the topic of the essay, and then write an effective thesis sentence for each one. Your thesis statement should clearly state your opinion. 

1. An MBA Does Not Ensure Corporate Success.

      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Why Everyone Should Use Metaverse

      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________

3.  Illegal immigrants are entitled to remain in the US.

      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________

Exercise 7: Identify the Appeal

Identify which appeal is being used in each sentence. Write for ethos, P for pathos, and L for logos. If more than one appeal is being used, you can write more than one letter. 

1. ____

2. ____

3. ____

4. ____

5. ____

6. ____

Exercise 8: Appeal to the Audience

Write a topic sentence to answer the prompt below as though you were writing a persuasive paragraph. Then write 1-2 sentences of support for your opinion using ethos, pathos, and logos. 

Prompt:

Humans are living longer, to the point where we may become immortal in the future. In your opinion, would living forever be good or bad?

Ethos:
 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Pathos:
 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Logos:
 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 

Exercise 9: Rebuttal

Write a rebuttal for the counterclaim below. 

Thesis Opinion: All young adults should be required by law to volunteer in their community once every week.

Counterclaim: While there may be many benefits to volunteer activities, forced volunteer work can no longer be defined as "volunteering," which by definition means offering up your own time. Because it should be an activity that is freely chosen, an obligation to volunteer blurs the lines for what it means to volunteer.

Rebuttal:
 

Exercise 10: Call to Action

Read the titles of essays below and write a call to action for each one.

1. It Is About Time to Consider Plastic Surgery As Socially Acceptable 

      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 
       ______________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Healthcare for Everyone

      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Why Positive Thinking Is a Must Have Skill For Every Person

      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Ethical Use of Zoos

      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________

Exercise 11: Evaluate an Outline

Read the outline for an essay about vaccines. Evaluate it. What would make the outine more effective? Work to revise the outline.

TH = thesis statement, TS = topic sentence, RTH = restated thesis statement

Exercise 12: Complete the Outline

Complete the outline below by filling in the six blanks. You may need to write phrases or sentences to show your ideas. You may also need to fill in the missing cohesive devices to show the relationship between the ideas. 

TH = thesis statement, TS = topic sentence, CC = counterclaim, R = rebuttal, RTH = restated thesis statement

Exercise 13:

Make an outline for a persuasive essay that answers the prompt below.

Prompt: What is the best mode of transportation? Support your opinion with examples and details. 

CC BY-NC

CC BY-NC: This work is released under a CC BY-NC license, which means that you are free to do with it as you please as long as you (1) properly attribute it and (2) do not use it for commercial gain.