Would you like others to accept something you feel strongly about? Do you want people to understand why you think or feel the way you do about something? Or maybe you want to change the way people think or convince others to do something that’s important to you. If so, you’ve come to the right place.
Writing an opinion or argumentative paper is a great way to convince others to accept, understand, or act on something that matters to you. This type of writing is sometimes called persuasive writing and you’ll find it in newspaper editorials, speeches, advertisements, movie and book reviews and other types of reports.
Some General Tips
Yes, you can change people’s minds by giving them information, but you might also persuade readers by appealing to their feelings. Get them excited. Let them know why this topic you’re writing about should matter to them.
Whether you use information or emotions to make your point, you’ll have a better chance of swaying your readers if you connect with them. Let them know you have something in common. Give them reasons to trust you. Tell them why you know what you’re talking about and why it matters to you. Use your words and enough supporting evidence to show them how reasonable you are.
Your opinion or argument will be more effective if you provide readers with both sides of the issue. Share ideas and information that support your claim but don’t ignore information or ideas that oppose your claim. Think about why others might disagree with you. Share these possible disagreements with your readers then explain why your viewpoint makes more sense.
Plan Your Paper
First, figure out who you’re trying to convince. Kids? Adults? Keep these readers in mind as you write. Generally, you should write to them the same way you’d speak to them. Use the arguments, facts, reasons, and supporting evidence that you think will matter the most to these particular readers. Figure out how you can connect and relate to them. Also, think about what matters to them and how accepting your opinion will benefit them. Remember, your paper isn’t about you. It’s about them. They’re who you need to convince!
Second, decide what you hope to accomplish. Why do you think changing your readers’ opinions is important? What will be gained if you’re able to convince others to agree with you? Keep your overall goal in mind as you write. You may not come right out and state this goal, but knowing what it is will affect how you write. Caring about your topic and knowing why you care will come through in your writing and make your message more effective.
Next, think about what facts or evidence you could use to support your opinion. Write these down for further research. If you need some advice on how to research, visit the Informative Writing page.
Finally, make a list of all the reasons you think people may disagree with you. Next to each reason, write down why your opinion makes more sense. If there’s something wrong with the disagreements you listed – would having these opposing opinions cause harm? danger? problems? – write those down too. Think of ways you could prove these opposing ideas aren’t as good as yours then go research to collect your evidence.
Write Your Paper
In the first paragraph, tell readers what you’re writing about and the point you’re trying to make. Make this clear and easy to understand. Then list the three best reasons you have that support your opinion. Make sure these reasons will matter to the readers you’re trying to convince and that you have enough supporting evidence to convince them. But don’t go into details yet – save those details for the middle of your paper. Here, in the beginning, just list your reasons by summing up each one in a short phrase. List the strongest, most important reason first then follow with the second strongest reason. List your third strongest reason last.
Use your list of reasons in your opening paragraph to lay out the rest of your paper. Starting with your strongest, most important reason, share all the details and supporting evidence you found. When you’re ready to move on to the next reason on your list, begin with a new paragraph. Help your readers move on to the next reason by linking your paragraphs together with transitional words or phrases. If you’d like advice on using transitions, visit the Informative Writing page.
You’ll want to include your thoughts and the evidence you gathered against those possible opposing views. Is there a direct connection between these opposing views and one of the reasons you listed in your opening paragraph? If so, lead with the evidence that supports your view then follow with a paragraph that explains why you’re against the opposing view. If there isn’t a clear link or connection, include a sentence or short phrase in your opening paragraph that mentions these opposing views. After all, the main job of your opening paragraph is to let readers know what points you’re going to cover in your paper.
Once you cover all the points you mentioned in your opening paragraph, finish with a strong concluding statement that sums up your view. Also, if you want your readers to do something, now is the time to tell them.
That’s it – for now, anyway. Put your paper in a drawer for a few days. Don’t even peek at it. Then, when you’re ready to make your paper really shine, come on back and follow the link to Revise and Edit.