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English Composition 1

Organizing and Developing a Persuasive Essay

Every essay you write for the course, and much of the writing you do outside of the course, has the purpose of persuading readers. Even if you are writing an interpretation of a painting or a story, you have to persuade readers that you have a good interpretation.

Just as someone building a house needs to establish the framework early in the construction process, you need to establish the framework of an essay early in the writing process. For an essay, that framework is comprised of the thesis statement and the topic sentences. Together, these elements will help you organize an essay effectively.

Most persuasive essays tend to follow the same pattern of organization, a pattern that helps writers present convincing arguments.

This pattern of organization for persuasive essays is illustrated below. Understanding this pattern is important. You will need to understand and use this pattern of organization to help you write strong essays.


The thesis statement should present, in just one sentence and usually at the end of the introduction, all of the main points that you develop in the body of the essay. You should formulate the thesis statement from the main points presented in the topic sentences of body paragraphs. 
Each body paragraph of the essay should begin with a topic sentence that presents the main claim or claims that you will prove in the paragraph.
  
In the rest of the paragraph, you should use specific facts to support and develop the main claim or claims of the topic sentence. The topic sentence should give you a purpose in the paragraph: to prove a point.  
   
Avoid beginning a paragraph with a fact. Facts, by definition, are true; they do not need to be proved. Instead, give yourself something to prove from the beginning of the paragraph, and stay focused on proving that claim or claims in the rest of the paragraph. 
You should include a restatement of the thesis, usually at the beginning of the conclusion. In the rest of the conclusion, make readers think about the importance of what you have explained in the essay. 

This page was last updated on July 25, 2006. Copyright Randy Rambo, 2006.