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Anatomy of a Persuasive Essay

Introduction
Hook
Background information
Define terms
Thesis statement
Body Paragraph 1
Topic sentence
Evidence
Explain
Linking sentence
Body Paragraph 2
Topic sentence
Evidence
Analysis
Linking sentence
Body Paragraph 3 (Optional)
Topic sentence
Evidence
Analysis
Linking sentence
Body Paragraph 4
Topic sentence for counterargument
Evidence against
Analysis against
Linking sentence
Conclusion
Restate the thesis
Briefly sum up your arguments
Provide a warning if it is not followed
End with a rhetorical question

Remember to include persuasive techniques!

Choosing the topic


Choose a position that youd like to argue
Who is your audience?
Choose the strongest arguments for and against your position
Find evidence that supports

Introduction
Hook interesting first sentence
Open with an unusual fact or statistic - The pentagon has twice as many
bathrooms as are necessary
Open a strong statement - Cigarettes are the number one cause of lighter sales in
Canada!
Open with a quotation - Elbert Hubbard once said, Truth is stronger than fiction.
Open with an anecdote - stories from experiences to tell a point
Open with an engaging question - Have you ever considered how many books wed
read if it werent for television?
Open with an exaggeration or outrageous statement (could be about stereotypes).
Can challenge it - All women want to do is to stay home and bring up babies. Right?
Wrong!
Appeal to emotions - Babies are so sweet and adorable and lovely. But what if
women stopped wanting them?
Background information give context to your argument/subject; familiarize the
reader with the content
Why is this topic important? Why should the audience care?

Definitions define any terms that the reader might find usual/unfamiliar

Thesis Statement a clear, concise statement of your main argument; the


overall idea youll be arguing. Your thesis will also serve as a roadmap for the rest of
your essay, giving the reader a general idea of the path your argument will follow.
the topic
the writers opinion about the topic
a course of action, either implied or stated
the reason the course of action is necessary
Eg: Homeless people in Berkeley should be given access to services, such as
regular food donations, public restrooms, and camping facilities, because it
would improve life for all inhabitants of the city
Eg: Secondhand smoke is just as harmful as smoking and leads to a higher
prevalence of cancer and heart disease. Whats worse, people who inhale
secondhand smoke are doing so without consent. For this reason, smoking in any
public place should be banned
Eg: It is too late to save earth; therefore, humans should immediately set a date
for their relocation to Mars where, with proper planning, they can avoid issues
of famine, war, and global warming.

Never frame your thesis as a question.The job of a thesis is to answer a


question, not ask one.
A thesis is not a list. If you're trying to answer a specific question, too many
variables will send your paper off-focus. Keep it concise and brief.
Never mention a new topic that you do not intend to discuss in the paper.
Do not write in the first person. Using sentences such as, "I will show...," is
generally frowned upon by scholars.
Express an open-minded tone, finding common ground between different
views. You dont want to sound aggressive, as you will put them off reading
your essay

Realize that your thesis does not have to be absolute. Consider it a "working
thesis" that's subject to change. As you write your paper you may find that your
opinion changes or that your direction has veered slightly. Change the thesis as you
continue to write.

Body Paragraph
Only one point to support your thesis per paragraph

Topic sentence
reflects the main idea of the paragraph
links back to support the thesis
Explain - Further explain what you mean and how you will discuss it
Evidence information from a reliable outside source (not your own opinion) that
supports the main idea of the paragraph. At least 3 bits of support
TYPES OF SUPPORT
Facts: A powerful means of convincing, facts can come from your reading,
observation or personal experience. General and cannot be argued against
Statistics: Can provide excellent support. Be sure they come from responsible
source. Always cite (bibliography)
Expert opinion: The writer tells another persons opinion. The other person
should know a lot about the topic or have some personal experience that is
relevant.
Examples: (including personal experience and analogy): The writer describes an
instance of something to illustrate the point.

Elaborate show how your evidence supports your argument; build your argument
Reason: The writer uses reasoning or logic to argue the point.
Emotion: The writer makes an emotional appeal to the reader. (Hint: Use persuasive
techniques!)
Linking Sentence - Relate back to the thesis statement

Counterargument Body Paragraph


Choose the strongest counterargument to your topic

Topic sentence
State the counterargument
State your rebuttal
Counterargument: Most fast-food places offer salads as a choice.
Argument: Most fast food is very high in calories.
Topic Sentence: While it is true that most fast-food places offer salads as a choice, it
must also be recognized that most fast food is very high in calories.
Explain - Explain the counterargument and how it could fit into your essay
Explain why this is not true
1. You introduce this turn against with a phrase likeOne might object here that...orIt might
seem that...orIt's true that...orAdmittedly,...orOf course,...or with an anticipated
challenging question:But how...?orBut why...?orBut isn't this just...?orBut if this is so,
what about...?Then you state the case against yourself as briefly but as clearly and
forcefully as you can, pointing to evidence where possible.
2. Turn around: refute it, showing why it is mistakenan apparent but not real problem

Evidence information from a reliable outside source (not your own opinion) that
supports the main idea of the paragraph. At least 3 bits of support
In the example above, the best type of evidence would be statistics; prove that most
fast food is high in calories
Elaborate show how your evidence supports your argument; build your argument
Reason: The writer uses reasoning or logic to argue the point.
Emotion: The writer makes an emotional appeal to the reader. (Hint: Use persuasive
techniques!)

Linking Sentence - Relate back to the thesis statement

Conclusion
Tie up the essay briefly sum up the main point
To do this:
a) Restate your position of argument
b) Sum up the reasons why
c) Provide a warning of consequences that will occur if you do not complete it
d) End with a powerful sentence. (Use a persuasive technique eg: Rhetorical
question, analogy)

Persuasive Techniques:
Analogy
Attack
Appeal
Rhetorical Question
Evidence
Figurative Language
Hyperbole
Images
Humour
Inclusive/Exclusive language
Colloquial language
Jargon
Connotation
Tone
Repetition
Formal Language