Like other essays, persuasive or argumentative essays include an introduction with topic sentence, a body of supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. However, the difference between a persuasive essay and other essays is that it is not simply informative about a topic; it seeks to convince the readers to agree with its argument. Coming up with a topic that supports a good argument is the key to a successful persuasive essay.
Persuasive Essay Basics
If your instructor has asked you to write a persuasive essay, first be sure you understand the requirements of the assignment. You may be assigned to write about a specific topic or the subject may be open. Keep in mind that a two-page persuasive essay will not allow as much depth in your argument as a five-page essay. As you consider what to write about, think about the scope of your essay and ask yourself if your topic is broad or specific enough to fit requirements. Also remember that though persuasive essays can be based on your opinion about something, you'll need to research for facts that support your claim.
Topic vs. Thesis
A topic is not the same as a thesis--it's simply a subject area to write about. A thesis must be developed from this subject area. For example, your instructor could assign a topic like "pets." To make an argument about this topic, you'll need to research what aspects of this topic are subject to debate. Possible arguments from this topic could be to persuade readers that pet-owners should spay and neuter their cats and dogs or that pit bulls are not dangerous pets. These are all specific arguments dealing with the topic "pets."
Finding a Topic
If your instructor has not assigned a specific topic to write about, it's not difficult to find your own topic. The easiest topics to write about are things you are interested in or passionate about. For example, if you love dogs, then "dogs" is a topic you can create many persuasive arguments to write about such as "obedience training makes dogs happier" or "vegan diets are wrong for dogs."
If your interests don't lend themselves to debate, good topics can always be found in newspapers, magazines and television. A great place to find examples of arguments is on the editorial or opinion pages. Current events are always great topics; for example, upcoming political elections, response to natural disasters, fads, court cases and school rules are all topics with many possible arguments waiting to be made about them.
More Topic Ideas
The best topics are ones that not only you but also your peers are interested in. Listen to what people are talking about, think about the opinions they express and consider your own thoughts about the issues. Here are some topic ideas to think about:
Portrayal of women in the media
Professional athlete salaries
Cell phones and driving
Alcohol at sports events
Airport security practices
Bullying in schools
Television and children
Democracy in other countries