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Persuasive Essay

When you write a persuasive essay, you are creating a paper that will prove a point, which will change the reader's opinion and/or clarify the issue. The process of causing someone to change their mind can be difficult. You have to think clearly about how you stand on the topic, plan you approach, use stong evidence, and understand the topic.

There may be several different ways that you chose a topic for your persuasive essay. Your teacher may give you a prompt or a choice of several prompts. Or, you may have to come up with a topic, based on your own experience or the texts you've been studying. If you do have some choice in the topic selection, it's helpful if you select one that interests you. Also, you should chose a topic about which you have strong feelings, whether they be positive or negative. Once you have the topic, you can start the taking the steps toward writing your persuasive essay:

Brainstorm: Use whichever method of brainstorming works best for you, whether it be freewriting, clustering, or listing. Write down your thoughts about the topic. Make sure you know where you stand on the issue. You can even try asking yourself some questions. For example, in an essay where you are persuading your reader that Emily Dickinson was sane, you could write down some related ideas:

Was ED sane? Yes.
Why? She wrote very intelligent poetry. She couldn't have been insane.

In an essay, where you are persuading your reader that Dickinson was insane, you would take a similiar approach, but with very different results. Here's an example of using freewriting:

ED was insane. She wrote crazy poetry. She didn't follow rules. She lived in solitude. Didn't want to see anyone.

Investigate: Talk to classmates, friends, and teachers about the topic. What do they think about it? The responses that you get from these people will give you a preview of how they woud respond to your opinion in your paper. Talking out your ideas, and testing your opinions, gives you more of a clue of what you have to say to persuade them to your point of view.

Read: Learn as much as you can about the topic. Read biographical information about the author, if you are writng about a book. Also, read critical material (essays, summaries, etc.) You can find lots of critical and biographical material online and in your library.

Think: It may seem obvious, but you really have to think about how you are going to persuade your audience. Don't insult your readers. Use a calm, reasoning tone. Rely on logic (spelling your argument out for your readers). Don't rely on emotion. Explain to your reader why, despite the other side of the argument, your viewpoint is the "right," most logical one.

Organize: In any paper that you write you should make sure that your points are well-organized and that your supporting ideas are clear, concise, and to-the point. In persuasive writing, though, it is especially important that you use specific examples to illustrate your main points. Don't give your reader the impression that you are not educated on the issues related to your topic. Choose your words carefully.

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