How can I write a persuasive essay, and what are the steps to forming a persuasive essay?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Writing a persuasive essay depends on understanding what it is and how it differs from an argumentative essay. This confuses many because they are similar except on three particular points. The first point is that a persuasive essay may present an opposing stance though it will not develop the stance at length, while an argumentative essay both presents opposing ideas and develops them at length.

The second point is that a persuasive essay may take a less formal tone and approach to presenting factual support (depending upon the individual professor's or tutor's preference) than an argumentative essay, which must be formal academic writing. The third is that while an argumentative essay must be objective and impersonal in presenting highly detailed factual support, a persuasive essay is subjective and develops its logic with less supporting research. Now that you know what distinguishes a persuasive essay, we can talk about writing one and the steps needed.

A persuasive essay presents the writer's opinion on a subject topic in such a way as to persuade, or convince, the reader of the correctness and soundness of the writer's belief. This persuasion may include emotional appeal but, in general, unless otherwise stated, professors and tutors may prefer the emotional appeal be subordinated to logical appeal and generally left out.

After having chosen a topic and established an opinioned stance, you will research your topic. While research, statistics, expert opinion and other factual data are an essential part of a persuasive essay, the requirement is not as stringent as for an argumentative essay because only the writer's opinion is emphasized. Nonetheless, mention and refutation of one opposing position is required in a persuasive essay.

In summary, remembering that the intent of a persuasive essay is to persuade the audience to your way of thinking, the use of logic (which must be sound and without logical fallacies) is aimed at proving the correctness and validity of your opinion, which is one reason good research is certainly needed. Facts and other data are presented as opinion-directed persuasive tools, not as objective argumentative tools. Having used a less formal tone for the persuasive essay throughout, your conclusion redirects attention to your opinion and calls for a decision, and possibly action, that agrees with supportive facts.

If you have defined your topic and opinion specifically and narrowly and expressed it in a clear thesis statement, if you have presented sound supporting information, if your logic has proven how the data confirms your opinion, if you make a strong logical appeal in your conclusion combined with a suggestion of or call to action, then your persuasive essay should fulfill its objective and convince your reader(s) that your opinion is well-founded, logical and the only right choice a thinking person can make (bear in mind, some instructors may approve of an emotional appeal).

[Note: Persuasive essay and argument essay are the same thing, but argument essay and argumentative essay are not the same thing. So persuasive essay and argumentative essay are also not the same thing.]

omconnelly eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When writing a persuasive essay, the first thing you must do is clearly define your stance. This will help you organize the rest of your material prior to writing your essay and will also aid you in writing a clearly defined thesis statement.

A great format and resource to use when writing a persuasive argument is the Toulmin Model of Argument. This resource helps you to clearly state your claim or main point and support it rationally. Based on the Toulmin Model, you need a clearly defined claim. This is a statement that you believe to be true based on fact or judgement. An example of a claim is, "You should wear a jacket to the beach."

In order to support this claim, you need to include grounds.

Grounds are your proof and may be

  • facts,
  • statistics,
  • an authority's opinion or
  • beliefs, or testimony from primary sources

Based on the above claim, the grounds you may use to prove the claim are 

"You should wear a jacket to the beach because the temperature is only fifty degrees."

"You should wear a jacket to the beach because everyone at the beach is wearing a jacket."

"You should wear a jacket to the beach because you always complain that you are cold."

Once you clearly present your claim and supporting grounds, your audience may make a warrant or inference based on the information you presented. The warrant is unstated, but it is based on the claim and grounds you present.

A warrant may be based on

  • ethos: credible source
  • pathos: emotional
  • logos: logic

Ethos, pathos, and logos are often referred to as appeals, because the idea is that you will appeal to your audience's logic, emotion, or through the use of a credible source. 

Based on the claim and grounds presented above, the warrant may be

"You should wear a jacket to the beach because the temperature is only fifty degrees." The warrant is fifty degrees is not warm, so you need to dress appropriately.(Logos)

"You should wear a jacket to the beach because everyone on the beach is wearing one." The warrant is everyone is wearing a jacket because it is cold. (Ethos)

"You should wear a jacket to the beach because you always complain that you are cold." The warrant is no matter the temperature on the thermostat, you have previously complained you are cold. (Pathos)

Finally, you need to consider all possible sources for rebuttal. The rebuttal acknowledges the exceptions or limitations to an argument. This is an important  step because you may 

  • do more research to enhance your argument
  • acknowledge the lapses in your argument and offer an alternative or justification for the lapses

Once you have organized your claims, grounds, warrants, and rebuttals, you can begin to write your essay. In your introduction, you need to clearly state your claims in a thesis statement. Your introduction should also preview or outline your argument for your readers. Then each body paragraph should address one claim and include specific grounds to support each claim. Whenever possible, you should include a variety of authority, testimony and statistical evidence. These details should be clearly cited as well. Lastly, you want to include a paragraph or two about the possible limitations to your argument. The concluding paragraph should reiterate your argument and perspective. 

kerry2301 | Student

WhenSaw even writing a persuasive piece one has to ensure that the devices / techniques are included, some of these are: The use of contrast, repetition, direct personal appeal. Emotive language or words.The  persuasive tone must be created through the transitional phrases, however, on the other hand etc.some examples of language which helps to create the tone are: based upon, when one considers, one cannot deny, one can imagine the effects. When writing a persuasive piece one should rely on logics instead of psychological because in most cause the psychological reasoning is considered weak. Just choose topic because you can develop arguments aimed at persuading the reader rather than based on how you feel about it.finally be sure to include in your introduction the issue, your take and parties involved.