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What Is the First Step You Should Take When Writing a Persuasive Essay?


The first step in writing a persuasive essay actually takes place before you start drafting. This step is called prewriting. Prewriting helps you plan your essay, organize your material and make sure you have everything you need to present a clear and coherent argument. Prewriting involves defining your approach, considering your audience, reviewing your research, and creating an outline.

Define Your Approach

A clear approach is key to writing a successful persuasive essay. Consider the issue you’re writing about and decide which side you want to advocate. Try summarizing this in one clear sentence. This sentence will become your working thesis statement. It will help guide your writing and keep your argument focused.

Consider Your Audience

It’s important to consider who might read your essay. Consider what you may know about your reader, such as their age, ethnicity, religious or political views, or gender. This can help determine the direction and tone you take once you start writing. For example, if you know your audience is likely to oppose your argument, brainstorm ways to compel them to keep reading even if they disagree. If you don’t know who your audience will be, write in an inclusive way that doesn’t make assumptions or use generalizations, and remember to explain terms that may be unfamiliar.

Review Your Research

An effective persuasive essay must include convincing evidence from credible sources. Review your research to identify the most compelling support for your argument. Consider the credibility of those sources, such as where the information was published, how recent it is, and who wrote it. Check that you have evidence from several sources so you aren’t relying on a single source. Review evidence that supports the opposing viewpoint to help you better understand your issue and identify arguments you may want to dispute in your essay.

Create an Outline

A persuasive essay must be well organized. Developing an outline can help you structure your essay to make sure your points are clear and flow in a logical, coherent order. The format for a persuasive essay includes a clear introduction with a thesis statement, followed by three or more body paragraphs that show support for your thesis and include evidence to back up your ideas, and a powerful concluding paragraph that circles back to your thesis and summarizes your argument. The more detailed your outline is, the easier it will be to write your essay.

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About the Author

Amy Mahoney has been a writer for more than 15 years. Her articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines including “The Boston Globe,” “Reader’s Digest” and the “Miami Herald.” She holds a Master of Fine Arts in fiction.

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