The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Persuasive Essay

 Writing a persuasive copy is one of the most effective ways to connect with your readers. A well-structured article that employs sound logic and vivid examples can go a long way in getting your audience to engage with your content and can play a significant role in urging them to take action. Needless to say, having the ability to author a persuasive paper is a very valuable skill that is highly sought after in many sectors.

When it comes to writing a persuasive essay, there are several variables and moving parts that come into play. Persuading people is not just a matter of elegant word choice and nice flow. For a paper to be persuasive, it has to feature a set of arguments that are backed by solid evidence. Furthermore, the content should exude an air of expertise and has to showcase the author’s ability to conduct deep research on the subject.  Generally speaking, a persuasive essay is recognized by three essential qualities:

  •       Demonstrable expertise on the topic
  •       Great writing skills
  •       Well laid out arguments
  •       Solid and logical evidence for each argument

Writing a good persuasive copy is not exactly an intuitive process. The writer needs to familiar with a number of techniques that are effective in capturing the reader’s attention and the learning curve that comes with mastering them can be quite steep. Fortunately, our guide will demystify everything you need to know and will help you a craft a powerful paper that is guaranteed to connect with your audience.

How to write a persuasive essay

As stated above, writing a persuasive essay requires sticking to a blueprint that is proven and tested. Proper structure, a logical flow of arguments, pertinent evidence, and a concise conclusion are the main characteristics that should be present in your copy. To make sure that your paper meets these conditions, you should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Setting a structure: This is the first step that you should take. The structure of the paper should not be established as you are writing. Instead, you should set a plan at the start and decide on the logical flow of the paper as well as the presentation of the arguments and evidence.
  • A comprehensive definition of the topic at hand: After picking a particular topic, you need to provide a detailed definition of what the problem is. Moreover, you should outline the goal of the paper and clarify your position on the issue.
  • Proper research: This step is rather obvious and intuitive. The lion’s share of your time and resources should be allocated to conducting in-depth research on the topic. Every single piece of evidence has to come from an accredited authoritative source.
  • Understanding your target audience: Before writing anything, you must have a clear idea of who your audience is and what their perspectives on the topic are. This will help you set the tone of the paper and evaluate their stance on the subject.

In the rest of this article, we will delve into further details on how to write a persuasive essay. Additionally, we will share some topic ideas with you and offer you some valuable tips that can improve your skills.

The structure of a persuasive essay

Free-flow writing is highly discouraged in persuasive papers. In fact, the structure is extremely important and is the main variable that separates a good paper from a bad one. Besides the aesthetic qualities that it provides, a well-structured copy reflects the author’s professionalism and authority on a particular topic. Regardless of their intrinsic quality, papers that lack a coherent structure are bound to confuse the reader.

A properly structured paper should have these three main components:

  • A good introduction: The first paragraph should give the reader a complete idea of what the topic is. It needs to be concise, straight to the point, and short enough not to test your audience’s attention span. The introduction serves as an attention grabber that engages the readers and entices them to continue reading.
  • Body paragraphs: This refers to a group of sentences about a particular sub-topic that is directly related to the main subject. The inclusion of body paragraphs enhances the paper’s cohesion and unity and helps make the information more digestible.
  • An effective conclusion: Writing a good conclusion is the perfect way to summarize a persuasive paper. Rather than resorting to generic recapitulative sentences that provide little value, stimulate the reader by asking a provocative question or calling for some type of action.

Definition of the topic

Before presenting the arguments and evidence that backs them, your paper should provide a good definition of the topic. Unless the reader has a firm grasp of the subject, all your efforts will fall on deaf ears.  Since persuasive papers are not peer-to-peer academic papers, you should always assume that the reader’s familiarity with the topic is significantly lower than yours. Providing a detailed definition to the audience makes you the most informed voice and adds validity to your perspective.

Research

Researching the topic is the crux of your persuasive paper. Your main focus should be on compiling information from authoritative sources and field experts. In this day and age, the options are almost endless. You can head to the library to check a wide array of books that are relevant to the topic at hand. Furthermore, several websites give you access to a number of peer-reviewed papers and journals that can add a tremendous amount of value to your work and provide you with a tested framework for crafting an effective persuasive essay.

There are several best practices for doing proper research. Here is a brief overview of some of them:

  • Keeping notes on your sources: This is highly important. When doing research, you need to keep yourself organized throughout the entire process. Taking detailed notes from all the books and journals that you used will allow you to add the relevant information in a quick and easy manner when you are writing the paper.
  • Checking library indexes for the latest information: For your sources to be highly relevant, they need to be as recent as possible. Checking library indexes will give you access to the latest peer-reviewed articles about your topic.
  • Including statistics: When it comes to capturing the reader’s attention, stats are probably the most effective tool. Make sure to find statistics that back your arguments and present them in a way that illuminates your point of view without being too superfluous.

Developing your research skills requires a lot of practice and trial and error. Besides being able to unearth valuable sources, proper research necessitates critical thinking and good problem-solving skills. During this process, you will have to sift through a plethora of content that is not always easy to digest. An experienced researcher should have the ability to evaluate all the available data and quickly assess its quality and relevance to the paper. More importantly, you should never hesitate to take the initiative. Don’t be afraid to delve deeper into the details of an academic paper and have the confidence to take on long-form and complex content.

Understanding your target audience

As we have previously mentioned, knowing your audience is essential to writing a persuasive essay. Rather than thinking of your audience as your instructor or as the people that are likely to come across your paper, you should view them as the people you want to persuade into taking a particular action. Having a good grasp of this concept is what ultimately determines the paper’s effectiveness as a persuasive piece of content. In fact, pinpointing your audience is just as important as picking the topic itself.

To further illustrate this point, let’s take this example: if you are writing an informative essay on the best practices for weightlifting, you will need to distinguish two types of audiences; the beginners who are looking for an introductory course into the world of weightlifting, and the experienced practitioners who need advanced tips in order to enter competitions. In the first scenario, the advice and guidelines are going to be much more basic and simple, while in the second example they would be more in-depth and complex. So despite the fact that the topic is essentially the same, the difference in audiences radically affects the content of each paper.

The same logic applies to persuasive essays. Writing a convincing copy that can sway the reader towards a particular position is predicated on identifying where the audience’s stance lies. In some instances, the same subject might have two audiences that are on the opposite sides of the spectrum. In that case, the writer could take a more neutral approach and address the concerns of both sides while nudging them toward a middle-ground solution.

Valuable writing tips

To ensure that your paper flows seamlessly, there are various formatting tips that you should abide by. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones:

Use of transitional words: These words or phrases are critical to the logical flow of an article. They take the reader from one point to the next and create a link between different ideas. Using transitional words boosts the cohesion of the paper and prevents your audience from experiencing sudden leaps between sentences. These words fall into different categories; agreement and similarity, opposition and contradiction, cause and effects, examples and evidence, conclusion and summary, and finally time and sequence.

Use short sentences: When you are writing a persuasive essay, comprehensibility and clarity should be your main goals. That is why it is highly advisable to use short and concise sentences. Longer sentences tend to bore the reader and increase the likelihood of mistakes. Short sentences, on the other hand, offer a lot of advantages, namely better readability and easier correction.

Keep passive voice use to a minimum: Passive voice is often viewed as a bad writing habit. While not exactly a grammar mistake, heavy reliance on it makes the content seem less authoritative and direct. Active voice gives your essay a stronger and much more active tone that is more likely to resonate with the audience. 

Use adverbs sparingly: Adverbs are typically the sign of lazy writing. They serve very little purpose and contribute to adding clutter to your essay. The reality of the matter is that if you use a strong and precise verb, you don’t need to add an adverb in order to drive the point home. Relying on adverbs as props is a bad habit that many writers acquire early-on.  Avoiding this pitfall is a must if you want your essay to flow in a cohesive manner.

The common mistakes that you should avoid

In order to craft a powerful persuasive essay that can effectively reach your audience, you need to avoid a number of mistakes. On top of making sure that the grammar is immaculate, there are several formatting errors that you should not make. It is worth reiterating that a persuasive essay has to exude an air of expertise and authority and making a lot of mistakes contributes to undermining that quality. Since we are committed to helping you achieve the highest quality of writing, we have compiled some of the common mistakes that you should avoid.

Off topic tangents 

A lot of writers find it extremely hard to stick to a particular topic. Adding anecdotes and stories that are loosely relevant to the main theme is not necessarily a bad thing. However, going off on long tangents that don’t add any valuable information is strongly discouraged. Frequent tangents also give out the impression that the author is not an expert on the subject.

No including a thesis statement

Neglecting to include a thesis statement is one of the most common mistakes that novice writers commit. A thesis statement serves as an aid that illustrates the focal points of your essay. A paper that lacks it will be too open-ended to persuade the reader.

Redundant and repetitive words 

This is another is of lazy an unimaginative writing. Students will often resort to repeating the same phrases and words when they are incapable of coming up with an original way to express their point. The main issue with this habit is that it makes reading tiresome and boring for the audience.

Improper punctuation

There is nothing more grating than bad punctuation in an essay. If you suspect that your grasp of punctuation is not good, we recommend that you learn some rules so that you can avoid making some of the more basic mistakes.

Informal writing

Depending on the topic of the essay, some degree of informal tone can be tolerated. But generally speaking, the style of the paper needs to be formal and should employ a host of specialized vocabulary. Maintaining a balance between formal and informal writing is the key to an effective persuasive essay.

Picking a topic for your persuasive essay

Regardless of your target audience, the first step in writing a persuasive essay is choosing a topic. To help you sift through the seemingly endless list of subjects, we have narrowed your options down to these topics.

Controversial topics

–          Abolishment of the Federal Reserve

–          Getting money out of politics

–          Is the right to free speech under attack?

–          The case for a tougher immigration policy

–          Is the war on drugs unconstitutional?

–          Are we currently living in an economic bubble?

–          The discrimination that Asian-Americans face in Ivy League schools

Sports topics

–          The benefits of video-assisted refereeing in Soccer

–          Is USADA hurting the UFC product?

–          Detecting CTE in living athletes

–          The prevalence of tainted substances in over-the-counter supplements

–          The negative side effects of steroid abuse in women

–          The lack of diversity in sports team ownership

Music topics

–          The reasons behind the decline of rock music in modern mainstream culture

–          Are rap lyrics problematic?

–          Are artists being compensated fairly by streaming services?

–          360 deals are predatory and  they take advantage of musicians

–          Is there a lack of subversive music in the current landscape?

–          The future of the music industry amidst declining record sales

Animal topics

–          Is trophy hunting immoral?

–          The negative effects of poaching in Tanzania

–          The case against using animals for product testing

–          Is keeping reptiles as pets a good idea?

–          Circuses should be banned due to their inherent cruelty to the animals

–          A German Sheppard should only be cared for by an experienced handler

The list of topics is not exhaustive, but it should give you an idea of what essay subjects look like.  As long as you stick to the guidelines that are outlined in this article, you should be able to craft a great persuasive essay. Make sure to proofread and do multiple revisions before submitting your final draft.