Posted by Susan Evans at 9/26/2008 8:00:00 AM />
The purpose of this guide is to offer strategies for preparing a strong persuasive essay or debate. It will sharpen skills you might not realize you already have, making your work more accurate, clear, concise, logical, convincing, and respectful of opposing arguments.
A persuasive essay makes a convincing argument in favor of or in opposition to an issue. Unlike a factual essay, a persuasive essay employs bias, or takes a side, in a carefully-argued point of view.
If you're a little nervous about tackling a persuasive essay, relax. You probably know more about persuasion than you think you do. Every day you express your opinions on fashion, sports, current events, entertainment, classes, or people. When you try to convince others of your views, you give reasons for your opinions. That is the start of any good persuasive essay or debate.
Let's take those everyday situations and shape them into a model. Think before you speak or write, and outline your thoughts:
The keys to an effective persuasive essay are organization and support. Some refer to the structure with the acronym POSSE, which stands for:
Others see the structure as consisting of an introduction/thesis statement, the body, and conclusion. Either way, an effective opinion or persuasive essay must accomplish the following:
The thesis statement is the "mind" of your essay. Everything else must point back to it, to truly make the best case. Generally, it should be one or two sentences long.
The mind works best when organized. Ask yourself some questions before you write your thesis statement, and take the time to clarify the answers:
The body develops the thesis statement in order to give weight to your opinion and to advance the argument with each paragraph.
Paragraphs should have an organized flow of thoughts, each one set off by a strong topic sentence. Topic sentences guide readers to each point in the argument, leading them steadily to the conclusion. They're the "muscle" of your essay, and they show that you:
What words should you use to make your essay crystal clear and well-written? Before you write, read some examples of opinion and editorial articles in prominent newspapers and magazines. You may also want to highlight phrases from these categories: transition, emphasis, and counterpoint. Use a different color highlighter for each category.
In the conclusion, restate the thesis and argument, with supporting detail. An author's goal in writing an effective conclusion is to have the last word, and to express it effectively, leaving the reader with a strong impression.
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