A discussion essay presents and discusses issues surrounding a particular topic--usually one that is debatable and open to argument. A good discussion essay must include a thorough discussion of both sides of the topic. It should provide a well-rounded understanding of the issues before the writer presents his personal opinions and conclusions. As with most persuasive essay formats, the discussion essay's quality relies primarily on the writer's ability to provide solid research and evidence to present different views of the topic.
Choose your discussion essay topic. Make sure the topic is one that you're interested in personally since it will be easier for you to write. You'll need to discuss both sides of the issues surrounding the discussion essay topic, so ensure that you have access to good research that provides pertinent information.
Outline your discussion essay using paper and a pen. Your goal at this point is to get your thoughts on the discussion essay topic organized and in writing. You can write a detailed outline for your discussion essay, using traditional outline format--letters and numbers to separate key points--or you can simply jot down a list of the main discussion points you plan to cover in the body of your essay.
Write your introduction. According to the Open University, your goal in the introduction of your discussion essay is to introduce the issues relating to the topic and to provide your reader with important background information. Explain any important words or terms your reader may not understand that you'll need to use in the essay. Providing your reader with a simple overview of how your discussion essay is organized will ensure that she understands your flow of thought throughout the body of the essay.
Write the body of your discussion essay, using any research sources that you have collected. Typically, you should present each issue individually and impartially, discussing first one side and then the other side of each argument that relates to your topic. Progress through your body arguments in order, starting with your weakest argument or issue and progressing to the strongest. This structure allows your reader to follow your flow of thought easily without getting distracted.
Write your discussion essay conclusion. Your goal with your conclusion is to summarize the overall information from the discussion essay body, leading the reader to mentally review the pros and cons of the topic argument. Although you don't technically have to be in favor of one side of the discussion yourself, if you are, be sure to present your own conclusions in this paragraph rather than earlier in the essay.