Writing: Starting Your Essay
The first paragraph of your persuasive essay should: 1) grab the reader’s attention, 2) introduce your issue in a way that makes your reader care about it, and 3) state your opinion about it.
There are several effective ways to begin. Try one of these:
- Provide a dramatic, eye-opening statement.
- Open with an engaging story or personal experience.
- Begin with an informative quotation or dialogue.
- Ask a challenging question.
- Share important background information.
- Begin with an interesting fact or statistic.
- Start with an analogy or illustration.
- Give a detailed description.
- Relate your topic to well known current events.
Sample Beginning Paragraph:
This sample paragraph begins with a question. The opinion statement is underlined.
You could also reread the first paragraph of the sample persuasive essay on page 2.
When you walk to school, do you ever think about the sidewalks you are using to get there? Few people ever do, unless the sidewalks are cracked and dangerous to walk on. In many of our neighborhoods, the sidewalks are breaking apart. According to the Public Works Department, about 12 miles of city sidewalks are considered dangerous and need to be repaired. Such repairs, however, are expensive. Because of city budget cuts, the sidewalks get worse and worse. Existing sidewalks need to be repaired, and new sidewalks need to be built so that people can walk the streets safely, get to school and work on time, visit local businesses, and enjoy the city’s parks and museums.
Your Beginning Paragraph:
In your writing notebook, write a beginning for your persuasive essay. Label it “Persuasive Essay Beginning.” Remember to grab the reader’s attention, identify your topic, and state your opinion. Also mention the supporting reasons that will appear in the body of the essay. (Write about the topic you identified on page 12. Don’t write about sidewalks – that was just a sample.)
A good opening for your essay will draw readers in. Write a couple more openings in your writing notebook. Label them “Alternate Openings.”
Next, share your writing with a classmate. After discussing your openings, circle the one that you will use in your essay.
Writing: Developing the Middle
The middle paragraphs of your essay should present the arguments or reasons to support your claim/thesis/position. Each paragraph should focus on one reason and its supporting details. One paragraph should focus on a counterargument. You should have at least three middle paragraphs.
Sample Middle Paragraph
This middle paragraph focuses on personal safety as a reason that sidewalks should be repaired. Notice the different types of support that are used.
Personal safety is the most important reason that city sidewalks should be repaired. According to the local group Save Our Sidewalks (SOS), last year 73 people suffered injuries related to sidewalks. Half of those injuries resulted from accidents caused by sidewalks that had been improperly cleared of snow and ice. The other injuries were caused by uneven, unstable, or missing pavement. One victim, Jennifer O’Neil, was walking her dog when she tripped on a broken section of sidewalk. She was hospitalized with a broken ankle. Mrs. O’Neil said that she knew the sidewalk wasn’t stable, but she was afraid to walk her dog in a busy street. “I didn’t want to get hit by a bicycle or a car.” People should not have to make such choices.
In your writing notebook, write the middle paragraphs (at least three) for your persuasive essay. Label them “Persuasive Essay Middle.” Remember to focus on a different reason for each paragraph. Then add details to support each reason. (You identified your reasons and support on pages 11 and 12.) Start with your most important reason.
Writing: Writing a Strong Ending
The ending of your persuasive essay should restate or reinforce your position and make a call to action. The tricky part is to restate your position in a clever, interesting way. Don’t just repeat yourself. A call to action tells your readers what you want them to do to support your position.
Sample Ending Paragraph
The call to action is underlined.
The sidewalks are just as important to people, businesses, and the quality of life in this city as the roads are. Yet 10 times more funding is available for repairing roads than for repairing sidewalks. As a result, many people must walk in dangerously busy streets in order to get to work or to stores. Poorly maintained sidewalks result in many people being injured every year. That means that people should raise the sidewalk issue at city council meetings, join groups like Save Our Sidewalks, and write editorials to local newspapers. After all, without safe sidewalks, city life can be both difficult and dangerous.
In your writing notebook, write the ending paragraph of your persuasive essay. Label it “Persuasive Essay Ending.” Be sure to restate or reinforce your position and make a call to action.