Strategies for Writing Convincing Essays Help
Strategies for Writing Convincing Essays
While strong evidence is essential for an effective essay, it may not be enough to make your essay convincing. This lesson offers several strategies to help make your essays more persuasive.
Most essays are exercises in persuasive writing. You may want to persuade your reader to change his or her point of view, support a specific cause, or agree with your opinion. In an SAT or ACT essay, your goal is to convince the scorer that you can write well. For a college application, your essay needs to persuade the admissions officer to accept you. On a more general level, because essays are built on the assertion → support structure, your underlying goal is to convince your readers that your thesis is valid.
The best way to convince readers that your thesis is valid is to provide strong and sufficient support. However, support alone is not always enough. The way in which you present your evidence, though, can mean the difference between a successfully persuasive essay, and one that is easily dismissed. Here are six strategies that work with your supporting evidence to make your essays more convincing:
- Be specific.
- Don't include ideas you can't support.
- Establish credibility.
- Acknowledge counterarguments.
- Avoid absolutes.
- Don't offend.
Whatever your topic or assignment, the more precise you are throughout your essay, the easier it will be for your readers to accept your assertions. Specific examples and details make abstract ides concrete, and something that's clear and concrete is more easily accepted than something vague and abstract.
For example, look at the difference between the next two paragraphs. The first lacks specific examples and details and therefore lacks persuasive power. The second paragraph, however, offers some very specific examples and details. It is much more convincing than its vague counterpart is.
To confirm my hypothesis, I asked my peers about the balance between work and play. Most of them said they thought the balance should be about equal. Several of them pointed out that because of technology, the distinction between work and home is fading, so it's especially important to set aside time for play.
To confirm my hypothesis, I interviewed 30 of my peers—students from both the public and private high schools in my area. I asked, "What do you think is the right relationship between work and play?" Twenty-two respondents said they think work and play should have equal time in our lives. "We should play at least as much as we work," said Ellen Reese, a senior planning to major in computer science. "Of course, that's a lot easier to do if you love your job, because then that's part of the play, too." Andrew Fry, a junior who wants to be a journalist, was one of the 12 respondents concerned with the collapsing distinction between work and home. "Between e-mail and the Internet, wireless connections, and cell phones, we can take our work with us anywhere and work any time of the day. So many people bring their work home with them and let it eat up their play time. I think it's really important to set aside time each day, or at least each week, to relax and play."
Notice how the writer of the second paragraph offers specific information: the number of students polled, the kind of students polled, and the exact question she asked them. This gives the reader a much clearer sense of her survey and helps him or her better understand the results. Then, instead of generalizing the responses, she offers more specifics, such as exactly how many students felt there should be an equal balance. Importantly, she also offers specific responses. She doesn't just tell us what people said by paraphrasing; she shows us by quoting their responses. Once again, abstract ideas and generalizations are made more concrete—and therefore more convincing.
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