In this persuasive essay how-to guide, writing a thesis, and using an outline set the scaffolding for this common academic English assignment.
It’s one of the most common assignments from middle school through college. Writing papers to persuade and move the reader to action is called persuasive essay.
Most students think it’s hard to write an essay and ask to write my essay, but with a thesis and outline, it can go quickly. Whether teaching academic writing or working through an English 101 class, this plan will help the student create a top-notch essay.
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Some beginning writers wonder, “What is a thesis?” A thesis is simply the opinion of the writer. The thesis is the heart of academic essay writing and is the guide to the details and facts included in the paper.
The thesis states an opinion that the writer is trying to persuade the audience to believe. Some examples of a thesis for a persuasive essay topic might be:
- Repeated Reading Aloud Increases Student Fluency
- Repeated Reading Aloud Does Not Increase Student Fluency
- Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields Causes Cancer
- Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields Does Not Cause Cancer
As shown here, the essay topic may be on anything that has more than one side to argue. The writer may choose to write pro or con, and this becomes the thesis, the heart of the paper.
Some students don’t like to hear this; they’ll protest, saying, “Yes, but no one has heard my ideas about the topic of abortion.” It doesn’t matter.
Some topics have been “done to death,” and if a topic falls in that category, it’s best to avoid it.
Yes, every student has his unique point of view, but someone else has probably made that student’s same argument sometime in the past. A controversial, debatable topic that is overdone has been written about for decades.
So why should students avoid writing about overdone topics? There are several reasons.
The most important reason is that students should try to choose a topic where they still have an honest chance of persuading someone else to consider their point of view. With overdone topics, it’s difficult to do so.
And, honestly, some instructors grow weary reading the same arguments on the same topics. Students want instructors to enjoy reading their papers and would feel disheartened to know an instructor has hated reading something they’ve written.
Some topics that fall into the overdone category are as follows:
- Creationism versus evolution
- Gun control
- Freedom of speech
- Capital punishment
- Stem cell research
These topics are good in theory, but doesn’t a student at least want a chance of persuading someone else to understand or see his point of view?
Do they want to be convincing when arguing for his side?
They do have a chance if they choose one of these topics; usually by the time students are in college, they already have well-formed opinions on subjects like these that aren’t likely to change, no matter how well-written a peer’s essay is.
Yes, an essay about the reality of alien abduction would likely be fascinating for both an instructor and students to read, but because many people doubt a “fringe” topic, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to find sources and data to back up one’s claim.
If a student can’t back up his claim, his argumentative essay is not complete. So while conspiracy theory topics are interesting, they do not make good topics for argumentative or persuasive essays.
Here are just a few topics that fall under the realm of this category:
- 9/11 cover-up
- Alien abduction
- Staged moon landings/space exploration
- Who shot President Kennedy
As with any possible topic choice, if students are not sure if their topic would be acceptable to their instructor, they should ask.
The essay outline is the same for all persuasive writing topics and has three main parts.
The only difference is in the complexity of the subject and how much information is needed to support the main idea.
- It begins with the introductory paragraph which includes the thesis.
- Then it moves on to facts in support of the thesis, with details and examples that explain, expound, and elaborate on the statement. There should be as many of these facts and details as are needed for the topic.
- Following the facts and details is the conclusion. The conclusion of an academic paper should tell the reader again what the thesis is and how it has been proven. Finally, the conclusion may include an appeal to action.
Thesis statement and paragraph
Fact or Detail
Fact or Detail
Fact or Detail
- Restate the thesis of the essay
- Restate overarching details
- Move the reader to action
After the essay outline is finished, it’s only a matter of filling in the blanks. Using the research materials gathered for the academic paper, one can begin writing the essay with an eye to detail.
Some of the facts and details may need subheadings to delve further into the topic. For a short paper or speech, one level will do.
After writing the first draft, it should be read aloud, even if it is not going to be a persuasive speech. Reading it aloud will help the author find errors in writing and faulty logic. Revise the writing to make sure the essay follows a logical order and has clarity.
In the second draft, the writer can fix any apparent mistakes. It should be read aloud again after the second draft, this time listening for repeated phrases or expressions that need to be polished.
The final draft is when the writer will polish the writing, making it as smooth as glass, even if it’s a controversial topic.
After someone finishes reading the essay, there should be no doubt in that person’s mind about the academic paper and the writer’s thesis.