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Persuasive writing (writing main body paragraphs)

Watch this to learn how to convince the reader in your Persuasive Essay for Higher English (it is elementary, my dear Watson…)

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When I was younger, I just loved whodunnit novels. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, the lot…

My favourite bit of these stories was always the end: the reveal. You know, the bit where the detective gathers everyone together and explains brilliantly how the evidence they have uncovered proves exactly who the killer is. The reader is left astonished and wondering how on earth they didn’t see it all along.

But what about the main body of your persuasive essay? How can you best present your evidence and show the reader that your point of view has been the right one along?

Let me convince you.

This is Think Four.

Your main body paragraphs are the major events for your persuasive essay and will take up the majority of your word count. This is where you justify what you believe and build the case that your reader should believe it too.

It is important that you only have about three or four separate points in your essay. This is the perfect number to give you enough room to argue your points fully and show that you have a good understanding of the topic as a whole.

When you are arranging your three points, you should start with your strongest, then your least strong and finish with your second strongest. This ensures that you impress the reader with a powerful beginning and end.

Now that you’ve planned the order of your points, it’s time to get writing. As with any essay, you should begin your paragraph with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a simple and clear statement that summarises the focus of that paragraph. If done correctly, a reader should be able to look at just your topic sentences and get a good impression of how your argument will be structured throughout your whole essay.

Now that we have introduced our point, we need to show that we have evidence to support it. This is where you introduce your research. Your research can take the form of statistics, anecdotes, or quotations from experts. However, it is important that you include more than one piece of evidence in each of your main body paragraphs, as this shows that you have researched your point extensively and your argument is not based solely on a single event or expert opinion. A paragraph with thin, or no, evidence gives the appearance of flimsy opinion and has little persuasive power.

But where do we find evidence for our persuasive essays? In modern times, we have access to thousands of sources. All is takes is a click. However, this wealth of information can actually be a problem. Some sources you may find online could be misleading, unreliable or, even, completely false. Avoid blogs, unofficial articles, or social media posts as these are frequently opinion heavy and reality light. Focus on reliable sources, such as well-known broadsheets, government resources, and charity sites. These will equip you with robust and reliable information that can ground your argument in the real world and make it even more persuasive.

Once you have laid out your research, you need to explain why this supports your point. Evidence on its own means very little, so you need to guide it towards your own opinion, in clear and concise language. You can also use this as an opportunity to use the many persuasive techniques you have learnt in class: rhetorical questions, emotive language, rule of three, repetition, direct address (just to name a few!).

However, a note of caution here. Persuasive techniques are crucial if you want to convince your reader your writing skills; however, too many techniques can undermine your argument and make it seem more like a rant than a reasoned, yet passionate, essay. Don’t be afraid to calmly state your arguments, alongside a scattering of persuasive techniques. This shows your confidence in what you are saying, as well as your ability to persuade.

The great fictional detectives make it sound so easy as they calmly and confidently present their case.

In reality, though, solving crimes is not always so straight forward and writing the main body of your persuasive essay can also seem like a daunting task. So, break it down: remember to write out a clear topic sentence, back yourself up with evidence, and explain how that evidence supports your argument. If you do this, then you too can have the reader nodding along to your big reveal.

This was Think Four.