Writing Persuasive or Argumentative Essays
Length: 1005 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)
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Persuasive writing is often used in advertisements to get the reader to buy a product. It is also used in essays and other types of writing to get the reader to accept a point of view. In order to convince the reader you need more than opinion; you need facts or examples to back your opinion. So, be sure to do the research!
Persuasive writing follows a particular format. It has an introduction, a body where the argument is developed, and a conclusion. After writing an essay, like any other piece of writing, you should read, revise, conference and revise, before publishing the final product. Before starting, check the rubric to see how you will be evaluated, as well as, all the ingredients required to write the essay.
The introduction has a "hook or grabber" to catch the reader's attention. Some "grabbers" include:
1. Opening with an unusual detail: (Manitoba, because of its cold climate, is not thought of as a great place to be a reptile. Actually, it has the largest seasonal congregation of garter snakes in the world!)
2. Opening with a strong statement: (Cigarettes are the number one cause of lighter sales in Canada!)
3. Opening with a Quotation: (Elbert Hubbard once said , "Truth is stronger than fiction.")
4. Opening with an Anecdote: An anecdote can provide an amusing and attention-getting opening if it is short and to the point.
5. Opening with a Statistic or Fact: Sometimes a statistic or fact will add emphasis or interest to your topic. It may be wise to include the item's authoritative source.
6. Opening with a Question. (Have you ever considered how many books we'd read if it were not for television?)
7. Opening with an Exaggeration or Outrageous Statement. (The whole world watched as the comet flew overhead.)
The introduction should also include a thesis or focus statement.
There are three objectives of a thesis statement:
1. It tells the reader the specific topic of your essay.
2. It imposes manageable limits on that topic.
3. It suggests the organization of your paper.
Through the thesis, you should say to the reader:
"I've thought about this topic, I know what I believe about it, and I know how to organize it."
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[GRABBER-OPENING WITH A STRONG STATEMENT] Of all the problems facing the environment today, the one that bothers me the most is global warming. Some scientists say that the earth is getting warmer because of the greenhouse effect. [THESIS STATEMENT] In this paper I will describe the greenhouse effect and whether the earth's atmosphere is actually getting warmer.
The writer then provides evidence to support the opinion offered in the thesis statement in the introduction. The body should consist of at least three paragraphs. Each paragraph is based on a solid reason to back your thesis statement. Since almost all issues have sound arguments on both sides of the question, a good persuasive writer tries to anticipate opposing viewpoints and provide counter-arguments along with the main points in the essay. One of the three paragraphs should be used to discuss opposing viewpoints and your counter-argument.
Elaboration: Use statistics or research, real-life experiences, or examples.
* Generating hypothetical instance: Used particularly when creating an argument and you want the reader to see a different point of view. Use cues for the reader. (eg.: suppose that, what if...)
* Clarifying a position: Think about what needs to be explained and what can be assumed.
* Thinking through a process: Think through the procedure from start to finish. Most often the sentence will begin with a verb. Provide background information a reader may need. Illustrate whenever appropriate. Define special terms used. Use cues for the reader. (e.g..: first, second, next, then etc.)
* Drawing comparisons: Choose something similar to what is being explained. Use one of two patterns: Opposing or Alternating. End with a conclusion. Use cues for the reader.
* Making an analysis: You can analyze a problem by looking at the parts and therefore help the reader to understand.
* Drawing an analogy: Use an analogy to explain or elaborate and idea by identifying significant likenesses between two objects or ideas when otherwise they are quite different. This is helpful when the comparison is made to something that is familiar to the reader.
* Generating hypothetical instance: Used particularly when creating an argument and you want the reader to see a different point of view. Use cues for the reader. (e.g..: suppose that, what if...)
A piece of persuasive writing usually ends by summarizing the most important details of the argument and stating once again what the reader is to believe or do.
1. Restate your thesis or focus statement.
2. Summarize the main points: The conclusion enables your reader to recall the main points of your position. In order to do this you can paraphrase the main points of your argument.
3. Write a personal comment or call for action. You can do this:
* With a Prediction: This can be used with a narrative or a cause and effect discussion. The conclusion may suggest or predict what the results may or may not be in the situation discussed or in similar situations.
* With a Question: Closing with a question lets your readers make their own predictions, draw their own conclusions.
* With Recommendations: A recommendations closing is one that stresses the actions or remedies that should be taken.
* With a Quotation: Since a quotation may summarize, predict, question, or call for action, you may use a quotation within a conclusion for nearly any kind of paper.
As a general guideline, when writing a persuasive essay:
* Have a firm opinion that you want your reader to accept.
* Begin with a grabber or hook to get the reader's attention.
* Offer evidence to support your opinion.
* Conclude with a restatement of what you want the reader to do or believe.