If you have ever written an essay that aimed at convincing the reader about something, you may think that an argumentative essay and a persuasive essay are just the same. Indeed, the terms are often used interchangeably and may be confused. However, despite their similar nature, they possess very distinct differences. In an argumentative essay, the writer should consider the topic from different perspectives and present both an argument and a counterargument. Contrarily, a persuasive essay can only present one definite side of the issue since its aim is to persuade the reader about a specific point of view. Besides, while the former relies on evidence based on logic, the latter presents the writer’s own thoughts and ideas, appealing to emotions and feelings.
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Persuasive Essay. What Is It?
So, as it has already become clear, a persuasive essay is the one that presents the writer’s personal opinion on a particular topic. Thus, it should start with a question for discussion and the answer that will be either defended or opposed in the body. While the writer must present a logical argument, the main objective of a persuasive essay is to appeal to the readers’ emotions and incline them towards a particular viewpoint. The fact that such essays are based on the writer’s own thoughts and ideas instead of evidence typical for argumentative essays does not mean that the entire piece of writing should provide solely their subjective reasoning. These thoughts and ideas should still be backed up by some data, research, or experience. Moreover, an opposing position can also be presented, but only to be discredited and stress the credibility of the writer’s position.
Since the essay is persuasive, it should contain the main elements (or modes) of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos.
Ethos is a Greek equivalent for “character”. It helps the writer to sell his or her point of view to the reader through the establishment of their knowledge and credibility of the argument. This element is often identified with ethics or good moral character, which wins the audience’s trust.
Pathos means “experience” or “suffering” in Greek. In reality, there is nothing too dramatic about it, but is rather associated with emotions. This element helps to connect with the audience by triggering particular feelings in them.
In contrast, logos refers to logic. After you have demonstrated your character stressing your credibility and established the link with the readers by evoking their emotions, you need to stress the rationality and reasonableness of your arguments, which marks the success of your persuasion.
Writing a Persuasive Essay
Pick a Topic
It is good when you have a freedom to choose a topic on your own. In such a case, you have an opportunity to write about something you are genuinely passionate about. Thus, you should already have a firm standing in the question and consequently, it will be easier to come up with credible evidence and persuasive argument. If the exact topic is assigned by the instructor, do not get disappointed. You are still free to choose any side you like, even if it contradicts all the possible viewpoints you can imagine. Just be true to yourself and get your own way in convincing the others.
Define the Audience
To pick up really credible and valid arguments that will definitely persuade the readers, you need to know your audience. Consider whom you are writing for and which evidence will work for them. When you know the target demographic, you will be able to make them believe you and agree with your position.
When you know all the possible arguments and counterarguments of the question, you can easily manipulate them to prove your point. Research all the possible sides of the issue. This way, you will get the idea of how to convince them about your personal point of view and how to make them disagree with the opposite ones.
Outline the Paper
After you have conducted the research and got a clear idea of what and how to go about it, make a detailed outline of your persuasive essay before starting writing it. This plan will help you to organize all your thoughts and ideas logically and smoothly. Having a detailed outline in front of you makes the writing process easier, when you know what should come next and where to look for the evidence for every paragraph of your essay. If you do not know how to make an outline, any research paper writing service can offer useful tips on the matter.
Start with an Introduction
If you are not new to academic writing and have already written at least one essay in your life, you should know that any piece of writing starts with an introductory paragraph. Its aim is to make a lead-in into the core topic of the discussion. An introduction should grab the reader’s attention, present the general context and all the necessary background information, and end with a thesis statement – your strong argument that reflects your firm position that you are going to defend in the body. Many experts recommend writing an introductory paragraph after the body of the paper is ready. However, you can start with a working introduction and modify it after you are through with the essay if need arises.
Write the Body of the Essay
The number of the body paragraphs depends on a lot of issues: the topic, the required word limit, instructor’s specific guidelines, your own intentions and plan of presenting the information, etc. However, every paragraph must back up your thesis statement presented in the introduction. Each of them must focus on only one narrow idea and have a defined structure. A paragraph should start with a topic sentence that presents its main controlling idea, proceed with relevant supporting evidence and your own analysis, and end with a concluding observation that links it to the next paragraph. Since you have a detailed outline of your persuasive essay, you should not have much trouble in laying out your body paragraphs and making links between them.
End up with a Conclusion
When all the arguments and counterarguments have been presented, discussed, and proved (or denied), you can wrap up your persuasive essay with a strong conclusion. This paragraph serves to summarize and evaluate everything discussed above. In it, you should restate the thesis statement, sum up all the ideas presented in the body paragraphs, present your own point on the discussed question, and provide the reader with some powerful afterthought. Make sure that the conclusion calls to action.
Not a single piece of writing is complete until it is proofread. First of all, the proofreading stage is a chance to eliminate all the possible typos or mechanical errors. Besides, in the process, you may detect some inaccuracies or inadequacies in statements or arguments, which were not obvious before writing. Thus, you get an opportunity to perfect your persuasive essay by modifying it accordingly.
Some people say that it is impossible to persuade anyone about anything. Still, you may provide the right information to them to make them change their point of view. A persuasive essay is a good chance for students to learn how to do it, a valuable skill that will be very useful in your future life.