If you’re a student, chances are you’ve already written a persuasive essay at least once. If not, you’ll certainly have to do it over and over again throughout your academic journey. It is the type of assignment that college professors in the USA, UK, and all over the world (whether English is spoken there or not) love to give to their students. And rightly so—no matter what you’ll end up doing in life, you’ll definitely have to persuade people who don’t share your opinions. So if you want to become a top persuasive writer, check out these helpful tips.
Choose the topic you’re genuinely interested in
Students don’t always get to decide what topic to pick for their essays. But if you do, choose wisely—nothing is duller or less inspiring than a random topic you came up with a minute before starting your paper. Instead, consider the things that matter to you and choose the one you know enough about to sound both competent and convincing. If you feel like you can’t think of anything interesting enough, check out the lists of topics on the CustomWritings service or whatever online essay writing company you can find.
Choosing a topic is not only about passion. Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to do a lot of research and find academic and professional services to back up your arguments. If you pick something obscure, ill-researched, or ungoogleable, you’ll be in trouble. Most importantly, make sure that your topic is both controversial and original. Even if it is something really popular, say, gun control, come up with an aspect of it that gives you a chance to write a paper that’s at least somewhat unique and personalized. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing to do but restate other writers’ ideas, and that’s not what writing from scratch is about.
Understand who your audience is
Think of the audience you’re trying to persuade. What is a good argument for some may not seem convincing at all to others. So you need to understand who is going to be reading your essay. This means that depending on whether you’ll submit it to your professor or read it as a speech to your classmates, you’ll rely on different rhetorical strategies and use different evidence. To decide what your essay should look like, answer these questions:
- Who is my reader?
- What is likely to make them agree with me?
- How can I keep their attention throughout my paper?
- Are they already on my side, or do I need to convince them?
- Will they appreciate hard evidence or emotional appeal more?
Once you’ve answered them, think of what the answers mean for your essay. Trying to imagine your reader helps too.
Decide which side you’re on
When you’re choosing a topic, you probably know what side of the debate you gravitate toward. This is a good starting point. Once again, your writing needs to be passionate for your paper to persuade anyone. However, there are other things to consider as well. All of us have our beliefs and opinions (which is great). But the problem is that if yours are too unpopular, you might have difficulties finding evidence to support them. So choose your side wisely.
Once you know what you are going to write about, do some preliminary research. For example, you have to write a paper on whether or not Steinbeck’s East of Eden is the greatest American novel ever. Feel free to order articles from academic databases and library services, buy a cheap book or two, and find a ton of reviews on a relevant website to make sure that you aren’t the only person in the universe who thinks the way you do. You may then write your own review just for the sheer fun of it. It’s great to be an independent thinker, but you still need a couple of expert writers to think the same so that you can cite them in your essay. The same goes for any topic you can think of.
But research both
If you want to write a quality paper, spend a decent amount of time researching the opposite position. That’s what all marketing companies do before designing their own custom campaigns to show their customer why they are the best. You need to understand what people who think differently think for you to be able to debunk their arguments. You may be as confident in your point of view as it gets. But don’t make the fatal mistake of underestimating your opponents. No matter how different their position is, it’s still valid. And you need to know it.
Make your reader see that you understand what you’re up against. Try to ask your professor for assistance with an outline. But even if they do not give you a formal outline or guidelines for the paper structure, dedicate a paragraph or two to addressing your opponents’ arguments. You will show that you’re smart and open-minded enough to see others’ logic despite disagreeing with it.
Your paper should look more or less like this:
- Introduction. Here you introduce your reader to the topic, give all the necessary background, and state your position.
- Main Body
- Argument in support of your position #1
- Argument in support of your position #2
- Argument in support of your position #3
- Debunking your opponents’ position
Sure, the number of paragraphs may vary depending on how long your paper is supposed to be and how many ideas you have. But the acknowledgment of the opposite side is not optional, no matter what you really think of it. Be persistent yet stay respectful.
In place of a conclusion
Basically, persuasive writing is about three things: passion, research, and empathy. You need passion to talk about something you find important. Research is key to sounding competent and having enough data behind your statements. Finally, empathy will help you dissect your opponents’ position masterfully. Think of these tips whenever you have to write persuasive papers, and you’ll become a true pro in no time.