Persuasive essays are unique because you the goal is to get others to agree with you. Set the stage for your argument in the first paragraph. The introduction for a persuasive essay must get the reader interested in the topic, provide background information and summarize the main point of your paper with a thesis statement.
Open With a Hook
Involve your readers immediately. The idea is to show, and not just tell. You could begin a paper about airplane safety, for example, by discussing the plane crashes that have been in the media recently, with a statistic of the number of people killed this year. Or begin by telling a brief, emotional story to bring your essay's issue to life. For a paper about gun control, you could tell a story about a tragic shooting; if you are on the other side of the debate, a story about someone saving her family with her gun would work.
Give Background Information
Explain why your topic is controversial, what both sides believe and why the issue needs to be resolved now. For a persuasive essay about airline safety, you could discuss the debate surrounding safety versus company budgets. If the number of airline accidents is increasing, use that fact to show why the issue is compelling. For gun control, describe the recent history of the debate and key events like the Columbine School and Aurora theater shootings. You could also describe the effects of the controversy on national politics.
Cover each side’s best argument. While you establish your position, also state a point about the opposition’s opinion that you can agree with. For example, “While airfares need to be affordable, safety measures can be established without excessive cost,” for airline safety. For gun control, you could write something like, “No one wants to be the victim of a gun crime, but too many gun tragedies occur to accept the status quo.” Even though you favor one position, demonstrate that you will be fair to the other side.
State Your Thesis
End the introduction with your thesis statement, the one sentence that states your claim. For a persuasive essay, it usually includes the words “should” or “should not.” Address the question or prompt on the assignment, if you have one. Consider whether reasonable people could disagree with your thesis. Saying children should be safe at school, for example, would not work since everyone agrees with that. Saying all handguns should be banned so children can be safe at school is very controversial and therefore a good persuasive topic. The thesis needs to be specific. You can outline your main points in the thesis, and once you’ve written the rest of the paper, make sure the thesis lines up with your reference support.
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