BY MELISSA BURNS
Writing a persuasive essay isn’t particularly difficult – as long as you clearly understand the purposes of this assignment type. A persuasive essay is supposed to present a point of view and provide a logical argument in its favor supported by facts, verifiable references to other sources and relevant statistics. Understand this, and you are already secure from half the mistakes people usually do when writing these essays. Most of the rest can be covered in these 5 points:
1. Think about potential opposition
Every topic worth writing a persuasive essay about will have many viewpoints on it that are just as valid for those who share them as yours is for you. When researching the topic and gathering up arguments in your favor try to put yourself in the shoes of potential opposition. What would you say against this or that argument? Is it easy to refute? Is there evidence to the contrary? Then address these points in your paper.
2. Deeper is better than broader
An essay is by definition very limited in terms of scope – usually, you will have no more than a few hundred of words to prove your point. Therefore, you should choose one fairly small point and cover it in as many details as such word count allows for – don’t try to deal with the entirety of the topic, it is what dissertations are for. This point is covered really well in Grad Coach blog if you want extra info.
3. Imagine your audience
Your paper doesn’t exist in isolation – you write it to be read (or listened to) by a certain audience. Who are they? What viewpoint is the majority of them are likely to share? Are they likely to share your opinion or will they be opposed to it? How hard will it be to persuade them? What kind of arguments are they likely to listen to? Only after you take into account all these factors you will be able to tailor the paper to the audience and make sure you don’t use argumentation that will probably alienate or annoy your listeners.
4. Keep to the point
If there is a lot of evidence in favor of your viewpoint, ask yourself if you will be able to present it all within the allotted word count. Is it realistic? Will you be able to give every piece of evidence the attention it deserves? If there isn’t enough space, try to sift through the available facts and ask yourself which part of the evidence is the most effective, efficient and impressive and which pales in comparison to the point that it will be a better decision to omit it altogether to give more attention to points that can really hammer your idea home. A couple of strong and well-covered arguments are much better than a mixed bowl of half a dozen proofs you can only spare a couple dozen words each.
5. Ask for feedback
Get some feedback. Ideally, find somebody who doesn’t share your point of view on the subject matter and have them read your essay or read it to them yourself. Are they swayed in their opinion? Did your essay make them question their previous ideas? If they find your paper to be unconvincing, it may be a good reason to look for better arguments.
There is no surefire technique to make any persuasive essay a splendid one – some topics are just too divisive to effectively persuade anybody changes their point of view, and some audiences are just too unresponsive. But if you follow these suggestions, you will at least make sure you did everything in your power.
Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org