Student Edition: How to Write a Persuasive Essay

Help! I have to write an essay!

If you are a student between third and twelfth grade you will probably write several persuasive papers during your school journey. You might be thinking: What the heck am I persuading? or, What’s an argument? Isn’t it a fight? Or maybe you are a parent trying to help your child with a paper due tomorrow. Either way, we can help! Read on for tips and a persuasive paper outline.

A persuasive essay is also known as an “argument” or “argumentative” essay. When it comes to writing an ‘argument’ does not mean a fight; it refers to giving reasons to persuade others that an idea is right or the best. For example, I may argue that cheese pizza is the best type of pizza. You probably won’t believe me unless I provide evidence or claims. Evidence includes facts or strong examples that back up my claim. So when I say “Cheese pizza is the best kind of pizza!” I would then back it up with evidence such as: “Cheese pizza is the classic Italian style, which means it is the most authentic,” and “Cheese pizza will most likely please the greatest number of people.” The stronger your evidence, the more likely you are to convince your audience to believe your argument.

Depending on your paper’s requirements, you will probably need 2-4 claims or pieces of evidence to back up your argument. This is where research comes in! Search for credible sources on the internet from sites with an author, a date, that back up their sources, and do not try and sell you anything.

The strongest persuasive/argumentative essays will address the opposition or counterclaims, which often comes after your claims and before the conclusion. Addressing the opposition means acknowledging opinions or arguments different than your own. Expand on the counterclaims for 1-2 paragraphs, depending on the length of your paper, but do not dwell too long.

Ok, ready to write? Let’s get started!

Argument/Persuasive Essay Outline

Introduction

In the introduction you should introduce your topic with enough information to make sure your reader is on the same page. If I’m going to talk about pizza I might give a brief (2-3 sentences) history and make it clear that I am talking about standard pizza with dough crust, sauce, and cheese. Next, and most importantly, I will end my introduction with my thesis. A thesis is usually 1-2 sentences that clearly states your argument and the evidence to back it up. Consider the thesis your paper’s road map. Be brief; you don’t have to give us all of the information at this point. My thesis may read as follows: “Cheese pizza is the best type of pizza because it is the most authentic, is most likely to please the greatest number of people, and allows the classic flavors to come through the strongest.” Notice I did not say “I think,” or “In my opinion.” An argument is a clear statement made with authority. Be confident!

When you are finished writing your paper, and have the nuts and bolts organized, then come back and write a hook for your introduction. A hook “hooks” the reader into your paper, which makes them want to keep reading. It’s like an exciting first line of a book, or an opening scene to a movie. Examples of good hooks are questions for the reader that get them thinking; interesting statistics or facts about your topic; a relevant (short) story. But really, don’t worry about this until your paper is almost finished.

Evidence (Point) 1

This paragraph (or multiple paragraphs) will go into detail on your first claim, or the first evidence you mentioned in your thesis. First, write a clear topic sentence that explains what this paragraph is going to be about. For example, I might write: “Cheese pizza is the best type of pizza because it is the most authentic to its Italian roots.” After that I will use evidence I have found while researching to back up my claim. Whenever in doubt, imagine your reader going “Prove it!” Ask yourself: did I prove this point enough to convince even the most doubtful person?

Evidence (Point) 2

Now go into your second point. Make sure you have a strong topic sentence. For example: “The second reason why cheese pizza is the best type of pizza is because it will most likely please the greatest number of people.” Then back up your point with evidence and, if necessary, examples.

Evidence (Point) 3

Now write your third point with a strong topic sentence. I would finish with: “Finally, the last reason why cheese pizza is the best kind of pizza is because the flavors of the dough, sauce, and cheese are strongest without added toppings.” Back everything up!

(Repeat with point 4 if you have it)

Counterclaim

Now you will take a break from your argument to address an argument, or more than one argument, that is the opposite of your own. For example, I would need to address the fact that many people love pizza with toppings. Try really hard to see the world from their point of view and ask: Why do they believe this? So I might say: “Some people believe pizza with toppings is better than cheese because of ____, ____, and ____.” Spend a little time addressing these counterclaims, but not too much. The important part is to be able to show that your argument is stronger. After showing my reader that I have considered other perspectives, I might finish with: “But, despite the arguments for toppings, anyone can see that cheese pizza is still the best.”

Conclusion

In your conclusion you should restate your thesis and convince us why your argument is the best. You may also get creative by using a story example, or asking the reader a question (“Can you remember a delicious cheese pizza you have eaten?”) Whatever you choose, make sure your reader is left thinking: Wow! I think their argument is strong. I now agree with them.

Good luck with your paper! Following the Storysquares outline, and giving yourself enough time to brainstorm and revise, will lead to a great paper. While we believe in our tips and suggestions, please note that Storysquares is not responsible for the success or failure of any paper written using our methods. Please reach out to us anytime! We love hearing from our users and fellow writers. Have questions? Want to share a success? Email us at storysquaresapp@gmail.com. Happy writing!