How to Write a Persuasive Essay

man with bullhorn

Learning how to write a persuasive essay takes a bit of practice, but this can be a valuable skill for the freelance writer.

About Persuasive Essays

A persuasive essay is a written work that attempts to support a particular argument. Persuasive writing can cover topics such as:

  • Why you should vote for a particular political candidate
  • Why children should be made to wear school uniforms
  • Why parental involvement is essential for a child's education
  • Why health care clinics must be added to low-income neighborhoods

To review examples of persuasive writing, check out the editorial pages in some of your local newspapers.

Tips for How to Write a Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay has three basic components: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Each part of your essay requires a specific approach.

Introduction

  • Open your essay with a fact, quote, anecdote, or statement that attracts the reader's attention. Keep this short to make the most impact.
  • Include a thesis statement that explains what your essay is about as well as the argument you are trying to make. Do not give away the key details of your argument; the goal is to provide a brief look that encourages the reader to continue.

Body

  • Make your tone fit your topic and your audience. Humor may be appropriate in some circumstances, but topics that involve more serious issues require a thoughtful approach.
  • Try to come up with at least three key points for your argument. A persuasive essay can have more points if needed, but three key points is generally the minimum for a solid argument.
  • Anticipate common objections to your argument, and then address these issues. Be rational and level-headed with your rebuttal; do not resort to personal attacks on the people who don't share your viewpoint.
  • Use statistics, real-life examples, hypothetical scenarios, or analogies to help support your argument. Choose information that is both current and directly relevant to the issue at hand. Remember to cite your sources when appropriate.
  • Do not attempt to distort data to fit your argument. Deliberately providing misleading or incomplete information is unethical.

Conclusion

  • Ideally, your conclusion should be something that "sticks" in the reader's mind. Many writers spend hours working on the perfect introduction, then hastily dash off a few sentences for the essay's conclusion. For the most effective essay, give your conclusion careful consideration.
  • Restate your thesis statement, but do not simply copy your introduction.
  • Summarize the important points of your essay.
  • End with a prediction, call to action, or recommendation.

The Value of Feedback

While getting feedback on your work is always helpful, it's especially important when you're learning how to write a persuasive essay. An argument that seems perfectly rational in your mind may be very hard for the average person to understand.

Ask as many people as possible to read your essay. If they can't accurately describe your position on the issue, your essay is in need of revision. If they bring up a rebuttal that you can't defend, you may need to clarify some of the points in your essay to improve the strength of your argument.

Criticism can be hard to accept, especially when you're passionate about a particular topic. However, you want to uncover any logical flaws in your work before you attempt to submit your essay for publication. Feedback, even if it's painful to hear, will only make you a better writer.

Practice Makes Perfect

The best way to learn how to write a persuasive essay is to simply practice as much as possible. Consider reviewing the LoveToKnow Freelance Writing slideshow Persuasive Writing Prompts for ideas on sample essay topics.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay