Is there a good template or organizer for a persuasive essay?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are actually a few different types of persuasive essays, though all have on thing in common, they pose an argument. So if you would like to find a template, or figure out the best way to structure your persuasive essay, your first task is to figure out what type of persuasive essay you are writing. 

While most persuasive essays are opinion essays and argue the point of the writer, a persuasive essay could also be a problem-solution essay (Persuasive Writing, In a problem-solution essay, writers present problems and convince readers that the proposed solution is reliable. Writers will not only state their opinion about a particular problem, they will demonstrate why the problem is gravely important, they will present their solution proposal and state why the solution will work. Finally, in the conclusion writers will incite readers to act upon the proposed solution (Step-by-step Instructions for Writing a Problem-solution Essay,

A third type of persuasive essay is the pro-con essay (Step-by-step Instructions for Writing a Pro-con Essay, With this type of essay, instead of devoting one paragraph to the counterargument, all paragraphs will present the pros and cons of each topic and, after weighing each pro and con, writers' conclusions will summarize the pros and cons and state why, despite the pros and cons, their opinion is best.

Finally, after choosing which type of persuasive essay you will be constructing, it is important to identify your audience, because the type of audience can change your format significantly. It is important for a writer to determine if the audience will be supportive, neutral, or pessimistic towards the writer's point of view. If the writer is expressing an opinion that he/she knows nearly everyone already agrees on, then providing counterarguments is less important and a template with only one paragraph allowing for a counterargument should logically suffice. If the writer is expressing an opinion that he/she feels the audience could swing either way with, then presenting more counterarguments to throw the audience off their guard can be necessary for persuading the audience.

Finally, if a writer is presenting an opinion that is completely brand new and knows that most of the audience will still agree with the commonly held notions, then like the pro-con persuasive essay, each and every single paragraph will present both the argument and counterargument for the topic. Presenting the counterarguments will help break down the audience's defenses. The writer will find it necessary to construct many sentences that begin with: "While it is commonly believed...; "Although research up to today has shown..."; or "Although most people believe...."

However, for a simple persuasive essay that addresses either a positive or neutral audience, the template above should work. However, I would advise addressing the counterargument after the supporting arguments, as follows:

  • Introduction: Introduces a topic, takes a stance, delivers the thesis.
  • Supporting argument 1
  • Supporting argument 2
  • Supporting argument 3
  • Counterargument
  • Conclusion: If necessary, conclusion incites a call to action.
dmcgillem eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are so many organizers for persuasive writing available online.  I have included links to two of them below along with an excellent resource for how to write a persuasive essay that I use in my own classes.  No matter which organizer your choose, they are all variations of the same idea.

A good persuasive essay takes a definitive stance on an issue.  Your thesis statement will present your stance on this topic.  For a basic five-paragraph essay format, your introduction will include a "hook" of some sort to grab the reader's attention (one of the links gives several examples to choose from) and your thesis statement.

The main body paragraphs will outline three points:  a strong argument against your position (you will explain why it is not a good argument), the first point supporting your position, and the second point supporting your stance.  It is good practice to end with your strongest argument.

A good persuasive essay ends with a restatement of your thesis, a summary of your points from the three body paragraphs, and a "call to action."  In a call to action, you tell the reader what he or she should do about this issue.

After this, you're ready to revise, edit, and turn in your final draft.

hsf203 | Student

A few points to add to the above response:

In "the strong argument against your position" (also known as the counter-argument), be sure to explain why it is not valid.

In your supporting arguments, be sure to explain how they support your argument, always relating the explanation back to your topic or stance statement.

Also, the five paragraph essay is very "intermediate".  I think in high school your paragaphs should be as follows:

1.  Introduction:  Topic, stance, thesis.

2.  Counter-argument

3.  Supporintg argument 1

4.  Supporting argument 2

5.  Supporting argument 3

6.  CAll to action

7.  Conclusion

Save the 5 paragraph format for when you are limited on time, such as when you are taking a standardized test and are not sure whether you will have time to go back and add in another paragraph or two.