Writing a Persuasive Essay

Writing Persuasive Essays in Four Easy Steps

Writing a persuasive essay is a snap for your students by following this simple four-step outline. Persuasive essay writing is even more interesting when tied into creative writing topics!

Before we get started, visit this page for hands-on activities that give your students a working knowledge of the elements of persuasive writing. Putting these elements together into well-constructed paragraphs will make an entertaining, quick-to-write and fun-to-read persuasive essay.

Beforehand, make a list of possible topics students might explore from their genre studies or literature circles. Although most classes tend to take the standard approach of writing persuasive essays based upon current, in-the-news, hot-button issues, I've found that writing a persuasive essay through the creative context of fantasy or fiction is far more enjoyable for students.

Provide several writing periods for students to plan, polish, and present their persuasive essays. As a pre-writing strategy, ask students to do some creative free writing for a few minutes about their topic. In this free write, students list in any way they like all the thoughts and ideas that come to them as they consider their topic. The purpose of creative free writing is simply to loosen up; results don't have to be shared. Instruct your students to use the two-step drafting stage below:

Step 1: Make an outline for your essay, using the four-part outline below. If you wish, go over your outline with a writing partner and ask for input and suggestions. You may want to revise your outline.

Step 2: Use your outline as a guide to write your first draft of the essay. Then put the draft away for a day. Return to it and add your fresh ideas and changes. You may want to write a second draft before your conference.

Conference with your writing partner. Read your essay aloud. Then ask your partner to read it aloud. Ask your partner to help you solve any specific problems you detect in your essay.

Revise your essay. Work with your partner to proofread for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Make a final copy of your essay.

Now, let's take a look at an easy four-step outline for writing a persuasive essay. Make a transparency of this outline for the overhead projector, as well as individual copies for your students.

Outline for Writing a Persuasive Essay

1: Introductory Paragraph
  • A) State your subject and your intention in writing about it. Identify yourself and the audience you're addressing.
  • B) Give two reasons that support your argument.
  • C) State your opinion in just a sentence or two.

2: Development Paragraph
  • A) Restate the first reason that supports your point of view.
  • B) Write sentences that give examples and details that support this reason.

3: Development Paragraph
  • A) Restate the second reason that supports your point of view.
  • B) Write sentences that give examples and details that support this reason.

4: Concluding Paragraph
  • A) Restate the subject of your essay.
  • B) Summarize how your reasons support your point of view.
  • C) Conclude with a summary of your opinion.

Let's apply this outline to writing a persuasive essay within the context of a genre study. Being partial to the creative whimsy of fairy tales, I'll use a fairy tale writing prompt to argue why dragons should be protected, valued animals. Feel free to use my example essay as a model for your students in applying the four-step outline.

Protect the Dragons: Yes or No?

A debate is ranging about the existence of dragons in the Land of Far, Far Away. This debate involves a conflict between the people of the realm, the royal household, and animal activists. As stable manager for the royal horses, I'm pro-dragons. For many years now, I've trained horses for the king and his knights through positive reinforcement techniques, and I've seen how any intelligent creature responds to patient and kind training- including dragons, one of the most intelligent species. Dragons are also endangered, and it's our responsibility as humans to ensure the survival of all species who share the realm with us.

Opponents may argue that dragons cause death and destruction of life and property, but I've personally trained several orphaned baby dragons who were found in the forests and brought to the royal stables. Through play-training techniques and positive reinforcement, these young ones developed a bond with people, learned to live co-operatively with the horses, and to protect the castle and kingdom in times of war and distress. Through proper care and training, dragons can become an invaluable resource to the realm.

Some opponents may claim that extinction of species is simply part of the natural cycle of life on this planet. However, I beg to differ. As human beings, it is our responsibility to ensure the survival of all species with whom we share the realm. Displaying kindness toward the earth and all animals is a hallmark of what makes us human. We are not here to simply do as we please toward other intelligent creatures.

In conclusion, I support the protection and training of dragons as valuable creatures of the Land of Far, Far Away. Opponents of their existence don't realize how intelligent and teachable they truly are and how well dragons bond to people when treated with patience and kindness. I vote for actions that protect these marvelous animals form extinction and help them live happily with people!

For added enjoyment, allow each student to create visuals- posters, brochures, or paintings- to display as they read their persuasive essays to their classmates. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words packs a double-punch when combined with writing a persuasive essay.

I hope the above four-step outline and sample essay is helpful to your students as you guide your class in writing a persuasive essay. Enjoy writing across the curriculum as you link writing a persuasive essay with genre studies or any subject area!

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