The Persuasive Essay: What is It (Samples, Examples, Guidelines)

Persuasive Essay

Could you sell water to a whale? Thinking about running for office? Maybe it’s time you try your hand at a persuasive essay.

A persuasive essay, also known as an argument (or argumentative) essay, is designed to bring the reader to agree with a certain point. The essay is a logical one, and despite its name it does not begin or result in an argument.

Read on to find out more about persuasive essays and how they are used.

What is a Persuasive Essay?

The persuasive essay is not a Facebook fight. The argumentative essay isn’t a long and angry rant. Instead, this type of essay uses clear logic, and perhaps a bit of emotion, to convey a point.

Think about the last time you tried to convince something of someone. Let’s say, for example, during an election. You were convinced that Joe Schmoe was the perfect man for the job, yet your friend was a strong Betty Spaghetti supporter.

You tried to convince your friend to “Go Schmoe” – but how did you do it? Did you call your friend a loser and run away from him? No. Instead, you cited facts alongside your opinion, and applied them logically to your argument.

The same is true for a persuasive essay. It’s imperative when writing one that you not let emotion stand in the way of a sound argument. You’ll lose your reader, and your essay will be for nothing.

So how do you write a persuasive essay? Let’s look at the steps.

Preparing to Write a Persuasive Essay

The first thing you’ll need to do when writing a persuasive essay is the most obvious. You’ll need to decide what you’re trying to persuade people to do. Do you want to convince them to quit their job and become a freelancer? (Good luck.) Do you want to convince them to vote for Betty Spaghetti? Do you want to convince them that retro games are better than modern ones?

Decide your topic, and organize your thoughts. Why is it so important to you that your reader believe you? Why do you feel the way you do about the topic? The topic of your persuasive essay doesn’t necessarily have to be something you’re passionate about. You may, for example, be assigned a topic in school.

If you don’t know about your topic, you’ll need to do a little research. But before you do, you’ll need to determine who your audience will be. What are their opinions? If you’re trying to convince a die-hard Schmoe groupie that the Spaghetti for Prez is the way to go, you’ll know which points you must make.

You don’t need to be an expert on the subject, but you’ll need to at least have a base of knowledge in order to write an effective persuasive essay. If you must, read up on the topic online or at the library. Formulate your own opinion, then you’re ready to convince others.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay

In many elementary and high school courses, students are instructed to write persuasive essays on a particular topic. The easiest and most rudimentary way to do this is to present three (or so) main points. For example:

Betty Spaghetti is the best candidate for President because
1. She wants to make spaghetti free to all Americans
2. She will fund research to eradicate the common cold.
3. She will eliminate global warming.

Once you have three main points, you’ll need to determine what is the opposing argument to each. Some may say that free spaghetti is a bad thing, because, well, carbs. Eradicating the common cold may be bad, because then common viruses will become more resistant. And eliminating global warming may be opposed because then humans will survive.

Whatever the opposing argument may be, you’ll seek to refute it under your three main headers. Always support your arguments with evidence. Quote reputable sources – you’ll want to quote Cornell University, not The Spaghetti Times. Direct quotes from reputable authorities are like gold in a persuasive essay.

Finally, always use examples. Tell the story about that time spaghetti annihilated malnutrition in an undeveloped country. Don’t be afraid to inject a little passion into your writing, but remember that too much will serve only to turn your reader off. Fact is king.

How Persuasive Essays are Used

There are thousands upon thousands of examples we could give you as to how persuasive essays are used in everyday life. The high school or college essay is the most basic and obvious of these.

Professors, in particular, like to challenge students to think. They may assign topics on everything from euthanasia to the death penalty. In some cases, these tricky teachers will challenge the student to consider the less popular viewpoint. For example, “Write a persuasive essay about why it’s okay to embezzle money.”

But others use the persuasive essay, as well. We mentioned running for office in the beginning of this office. Most political stump speeches are nothing but persuasive essays, spoken aloud. A candidate, in an attempt to win the popular vote, is attempting to convince her audience that her viewpoint is fact.

Also in politics, grassroots organizations use persuasive essays frequently to convince the public and the government to take action. And what about lawyers? Attorneys and others in the legal profession use the persuasive essay daily.

If you have an opinion, you can write a persuasive essay. Whether you’re assigned to do so or simply want to test your skills, the persuasive essay is a good way to get your brain moving.

As a freelance writer, you’re presented with opportunities to do this every day. Take, for example, this very site. We have persuasive essays scattered throughout the Freelance With Us pages, from why you shouldn’t pay for Facebook likes to why you should take an occasional break from writing. Not all are highly opinionated, but the persuasive essay doesn’t need to be.

Try your hand at a persuasive essay. Choose a topic and just go for it. It’s a great exercise for your mind; you’ll probably learn something along the way!

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