How to Write a Personal Opinion Argument Essay
We all have opinions, and throughout our lives we might find ourselves spontaneously arguing those opinions to family and friends. However, in the case of academic personal opinion essays, students must first properly plan and organize their thoughts before stating their opinions. By picking a topic of interest, outlining your argument and researching for supporting evidence, you can write strong and effective argument essays.
Select an Interesting Topic
Your instructor may assign you a topic, or she may allow you to select your own. The key to writing an interesting argument essay is to choose a topic that is relevant, interests you and about which you would like to learn more. Possible argument essay topics include: sex education being taught in public schools; gay marriage being legalized; animals being used in medical research; and the relationship between video games and violence. When selecting the topic, remember to choose an issue that you have something to say about.
Write a Thesis Statement
After you have selected the subject of your essay, you should narrow the topic to a distinct opinion. This opinion is expressed as a single sentence that makes an argument with which a reader can possibly disagree. For example, a thesis statement cannot be "the rate of childhood obesity is increasing," because this is a fact. You can write, however, that "childhood obesity is rising because of poor food regulation and a lack of physical activity in schools." By proposing a cause in your thesis statement, you have set up an argument that requires support and evidence to be proven.
Brainstorm and Research
Once you know what you are arguing, you can begin the pre-writing process. Brainstorming involves gathering as many ideas as possible on the paper without filtering or judging the material. This stage produces the content that you will use in the body of your essay. Strategies for brainstorming include lists, cluster maps and free writing. This portion of the writing process also includes research of the opinion and arguments of others, which can be used as evidence in your essay.
After brainstorming, select the relevant material and organize it into an outline. The outline gives structure to your essay before you write and operates as a map that you follow while writing. The format of the outline should include your thesis statement, the topic sentences of your body paragraphs and your conclusion. After you have completed the outline, you can check it to make sure that there is no redundancy, as well as whether all the topic sentences serve to support the main argument.
Write the Essay
Using the outline as a blueprint for the essay, develop each of the points into full paragraphs. Depending on the number of pages your instructor assigns, you might have several body paragraphs -- but always a minimum of three. Each of the body paragraphs should provide reasons that serve to prove the essay's main argument. Also, each body paragraph should use plenty of evidence to effectively convince the reader of the validity of the argument. Examples of evidence include quotations, specific references to real-world events and personal stories. With each piece of evidence you include, you should incorporate analysis that shows how the evidence proves and supports the point being made.
Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.