The writing process


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Note: Read the directions for each step and turn in each step on time. You must complete all steps in order. Also, please do not write on this set of directions and return them when you have completed the final draft of your persuasive essay.

Step One: Free writing and brainstorming (twenty points)
Step Two: Developing a thesis using your free writing (five points)

Step Three: Writing an introduction paragraph and a rough outline (thirty points)

Step Four: Writing the first draft (thirty points)

Step Five: Editing, evaluating, revising, and proofreading the first draft (twenty-to-forty points)

Step Six: Writing and proofreading the final draft (100 points)


Step One: You will free write and brainstorm in order to express your opinions and to get others to agree with you on a subject of your choice. The purpose of persuasion is to change someone’s mind. That purpose is accomplished through a good argument that explains why your opinions, beliefs, and ideas are reasonable. As you free write, make sure to do the following: state a clear opinion on an issue; use facts, examples, and reasons to support your opinion (you must have at least one factual source stapled to the back of your Step One); present your argument logically, not emotionally; urge your readers to think differently and/or take action; and end on a positive note. Begin your free writing by choosing a topic (you might want to discuss the topic with your teacher). Gather facts and examples and include them in your free writing ideas. (Possible titles are listed on the backside.) Write at least l50 words, include a notation about your factual source, and staple your source to the back of your free writing.


Step Two: Using your Step One, create a working thesis statement. It must be one sentence long and must reflect the main idea of your free writing (and of your future essay). Your thesis sentence should reflect your opinion clearly and strongly and should convey a persuasive tone. It should identify your topic and state your opinion. Make sure that your thesis statement is one complete sentence. Staple Step Two to the top of Step One.


Step Three: Using Steps One and Two, you will create an introduction paragraph and a working outline. Your introduction paragraph needs to set up your thesis statement, which will be the last sentence of your introduction paragraph. In the introduction, you want to get your readers’ attention. You want to get them involved and interested in your issue. You might want to start with a question or a demand or a quote. Your introduction needs to set up the thesis statement and prepare the readers for the facts and examples you will later explain in your body paragraph(s). Your introduction paragraph should be about three-seven sentences long. Your outline will illustrate how you plan to organize and discuss your opinion. It should reflect how your facts and examples will be included, and it should make a notation about your source. (A sample Step Three is attached.) Staple Step Three to the top of Steps One and Two.
Step Four: Using Steps One, Two, and Three, you will write your three-to-five-paragraph essay. The first paragraph is, of course, your introduction that ends with your thesis statement. The second (and/or third and fourth) paragraph(s) will be the body paragraph(s) that discuss(es) and persuade(s) your readers to agree with your thesis statement. You should express your beliefs and ideas and should include your facts, details, examples, and explanations. You want to make sure that you support your opinions. Then, create a conclusion paragraph in which you restate your thesis in a new and fresh way and in which you make your readers agree with you and/or in which you appeal to them to take action. Try to end your conclusion with a positive persuasive statement. Provide a working title for your essay. Staple Step Four to the top of Steps One, Two, and Three.


Step Five: After you complete Step Four, you will have two of your peers evaluate, revise, edit, and proofread your essay; or you will evaluate, revise, edit, and proofread your own essay. You and/or your editors will receive a set of guidelines to follow. Step Five, the editing sheets, will need to be stapled to the top of Steps One, Two, Three, and Four. (Note: If you have peer editors, be sure not to lose their editing sheets. You do not want to cause someone else to get a zero for this step.)


Step Six: Step Six is the final draft. Using your Step Four and the evaluation(s) of your essay, rewrite your essay. Make it your best effort. Remember to add your title. Proofread and edit it. If necessary, rewrite it again. Your Step Six will be graded using the same format used for your narrative essay. Staple it to the top of all other steps, which should already be stapled together.

Possible Subjects for Your Persuasive Essay

Note: You want to find a worthwhile topic, an issue that you care about. It must be one about which you can support with facts, not just opinions. Also, it needs to be an issue about which you can be objective, not emotional.

(1) Discuss a political or social issue:

  1. the death penalty—pro or con—take a stand

  2. abortion—pro or con—take a stand

  3. the electoral college—should it remain or be abolished?

  4. cheating in school

  5. the need for better education standards in the United States

  6. the welfare system—take a stand on it

  7. lowering the drinking age

  8. American involvement in other countries

  9. censorship

  10. support a particular political candidate

  11. explain why others should not vote for a particular candidate

  1. Discuss an environmental issue:

  1. the need to stop global warming

  2. the need to preserve our oceans and waterways

  3. the need to reduce air pollution

  4. the need to education people about littering

  1. Discuss a personal issue:

  1. discuss something you want to see fixed

  2. discuss a Mobile County Public School System policy you agree or disagree with

  3. persuade others to like or dislike (agree or disagree about) a film, book, song, poem, etc.

  4. persuade others to take a particular class or not to take a particular class

  5. persuade others to watch or not watch a television program

  6. discuss the importance of after-school jobs for teens

  7. discuss the need for a longer school year, or not

  8. discuss the usefulness of homework, or not

  9. rate a particular restaurant

  10. review a film

  11. persuade a friend to join the band

  12. persuade your parents to buy you a new car

  13. persuade your friend to become a hospital volunteer with you

  14. persuade a player who is playing badly to get off the basketball court, football field, or soccer field

  15. persuade a cell not to divide

  16. persuade your friend to become an organ donor

  17. convince others that studying history is vital

  18. persuade your history teacher to show more historical films

  19. persuade your parents to let you stay out later on weekend nights

  20. persuade your teacher to extend the deadline date for a major project or assignment

  21. persuade a friend to stay in school

  22. persuade your teacher not to assign homework on Friday (for the weekend)

  23. persuade your friend to break up with his/her girl/boy friend

  24. persuade your parents to allow you to attend a party

  25. persuade your friend to wear different clothes

  26. persuade the principal to extend the lunch waves

Creating a Thesis Statement for a Persuasive Essay
The thesis statement for your persuasive essay, which consists of the main idea and your opinion about your main idea, needs to be the controlling thought of your essay. It generally consists of two parts: your topic and then the analysis, explanation(s), or assertion(s) that you are making about the topic in order to persuade others to agree with your opinion. It is a very specific statement that should cover only what you want to discuss in your paper, and it should be supported by specific evidence. The location of the thesis statement varies, but it typically occurs as the last sentence in the introduction paragraph. As well, the thesis statement should be rephrased in a fresh and new way in the conclusion paragraph.

The thesis statement is not just a sentence that appears at the beginning and end of your persuasive essay. It is present throughout the entire piece of writing. The main idea, or thesis statement, is introduced in the introduction paragraph; and then its ideas and essence gently flow from one body paragraph to the next until it, the thesis statement, finally nestles in the concluding paragraph. This central idea of the essay never leaves any part of the essay; moreover, the essay always looks to the thesis statement for origin, guidance, and summation.


Formulating the Thesis Statement

The physical appearance of the thesis statement varies; in a persuasive essay, keep these ideas in mind:

  • What is my topic?

State the topic.

  • What is my opinion about my topic?

State your opinion.

  • Are there parts or sections to my explanation of my topic and/or opinion?

Provide all categories.

  • What is the order in which I want to present my explanation?

Provide order.

Note: Remember that a persuasive essay is a formal essay; therefore, your thesis statement must be written in a formal style. It needs to illustrate that the author is knowledgeable and objective, not ignorant and emotional.
Examples of Informal and Improper Persuasive Thesis Statements
People should stop using chemicals on their lawns just because they want them to look good because they are poisoning the environment.
Because it kills an unborn fetus, which is really a human being in the making, abortion is evil and should be made illegal.
Voters should not vote for John Kerry for President because he is a bad man who criticizes President Bush too much.
I think that high school students should have a later start time for school (8:30 or 9:00 instead of 7:30) because then they might be more rested and will do better; thus, the Mobile County School district needs to consider a later start time.
Jackson Browne should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because he makes really good music that has influenced lots of people.
The United States of America should become an isolationist nation and stop getting involved in other countries' business because it is costing too much money and taking too many lives.
Examples of Formal and Proper Persuasive Thesis Statements
Merely to keep their lawns lush and green, numerous homeowners are poisoning the environment with lawn-enhancing chemicals, a practice that needs to be halted.
Because he has created an unbalanced budget, expanded the role of the government, and misled the American people into an illegal war, President Bush needs to be ousted from the White House come this November 2004 election.
Through a statistical study, Dr. Mary Carskadon established that a later start time enhances the academic performance of high school students; therefore, the Mobile County School District should consider changing the beginning of the high school day from 7:30 to 8:30 or 9:00.
Because it uses the literary elements of the classics, engages adolescent students in analyzing literature along with themselves and their principles, and promotes and encourages lifelong reading habits, young adult literature deserves a valued and respected position in the high school language arts classroom.
SAMPLE STEP THREE: Read the student’s example Step Three below and use it to help you create your own introduction paragraph and working outline.

Should we be listening to the environmentalists and heed their warnings about the seriousness of pollution: the “greenhouse effect,” acid rain, the ozone hole, and endangered oceans? And, if we do agree with their pleas to “do something about pollution,” what can we, as individuals, really do? Isn’t this a problem for industrial corporations and the government? How can we, as individuals, make a difference? Actually, there is a great deal we can do within our own homes and communities. In fact, if we want our world to become a safer, cleaner place in which to live, it is imperative that we, as individuals, take action and become part of the solution, not the problem, of pollution: we have to make a conscious effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

I. Introduction paragraph

  1. Building up to the thesis statement—getting the reader “hooked”

  2. The thesis statement

II. Topic sentence—why we need to reduce, reuse, and recycle

  1. Discuss the “greenhouse effect”

  1. Mainly caused by industrial nations that produce carbon dioxide

  2. Also caused by release of methane and CFCs

  1. Discuss acid rain, ozone hole, and endangered oceans

  1. Caused by car exhaust and certain chemicals

  2. Oil pollution

  3. Dumping of waste, sewage, and garbage

C. Discuss litter and waste management

  1. Topic sentence—how we, as individuals, can make a difference: reduce, reuse, and recycle

  1. Reduce: Think before we waste and think about what we buy

  1. Reduce use of disposable items that pollute—batteries, plastics, Styrofoam

  2. Buy recyclable items or only what we need and avoid wasteful packaging

  3. Buy less hazardous materials such as pesticides, fertilizers, etc.

  4. Don’t buy items in spray cans—use pump sprays

  5. Use our cars less and our legs and bicycles more

  6. These efforts will help reduce the production of carbon dioxide, methane, and CFCs and will lessen the car exhaust and certain pollutants in the air

  1. Reuse—repair, not replace

  1. Reuse paper bags, plastic bags and containers, old fabrics and rags

  2. Compost—use yard and kitchen waste

  3. “Toss means loss”—there will not be as much to throw away, so this will lessen the amount of waste, sewage, and garbage

  1. Recycle—easy to do, and can even bring in money

  1. Recycle paper products (newspaper, magazines, old books, etc.)

  2. Recycle aluminum, tin, steel, glass, plastics, batteries (even oil, tires, and sewage)

  3. Instead of littering or creating more garbage for waste management, recycle

  4. In the long run—more efficient and even can be profitable

IV: Conclusion

  1. Restatement of thesis statement

  2. Note how positive and easy the methods of reducing, reusing, and recycling are

  3. Encourage the reader to take action—become a part of the solution, not the problem

Source: Time article: “Global Warming”


After you finish the first draft of your essay (Step Four) and before you write the final draft of your essay (Step Six), you must complete this step—having your essay evaluated, revised, and proofread by two of your peers (Step Five). Make sure you and your editors follow the directions below. This step is worth forty points.

The Author’s Name _________________________________
The Editor’s Name __________________________

  1. First, read through the entire essay.

  1. Now, reread the introduction paragraph. Does the title work well with the main idea that is introduced in the first paragraph and in the thesis? _______________ If not, change the title. Make it creative, but make it work well with the essay.

  1. Reread the introduction again. It should be at least three-to-seven sentences long. Does it clearly and logically introduce and lead into the thesis statement? ______________ Does it sound persuasive? _______________ Does it hook the reader? _____________If the answer to any of these questions is no, make necessary revisions and corrections on the first draft.

  1. Do you need to add to or subtract from the introduction? __________________ If so, make necessary corrections and revisions.

(5) Reread the introduction again. Then, skim through the rest of the essay. Does the thesis statement state the main idea and the opinion of the main idea of the essay? _________________ Does it reflect a persuasive tone? ___________________

If your answer to any of these questions is no, make necessary revisions and corrections to the thesis statement.

(6) Skim the essay again. It should be at least three paragraphs long. Does it discuss and prove the thesis in a persuasive manner? __________________________ If not, tell the author how to complete some careful and thoughtful rewriting.

(7) Reread the second paragraph (the first body paragraph) of the essay. Does it have a topic sentence? _____________________ If not, make a suggestion as to how to add one.

(8) Does the second paragraph contain enough information (details, reasons, explanations, examples, proof) to thoroughly persuade the reader to agree with the author’s opinion? _______________________ If not, tell the author how to add content.

(9) Is the body paragraph in logical order? __________________ Do any of the sentences need editing or revising?_____________ Are the details presented in a persuasive tone? _____________________ Is the tone objective? ________________________ If your answer to any of these questions is no, make corrections and revisions.

(10) If the essay has more than one body paragraph, make sure that you carefully and thoughtfully edit the other paragraphs. Use the directions for numbers 7-9.

(11) Does the essay contain any irrelevant or redundant information? _______________ If so, edit and cut.

(12) Now, reread the introduction, thesis statement, and body paragraphs. Then, read the conclusion paragraph. Does it make a smooth transition from the rest of the essay? _______________________ Does it restate the thesis statement in a new and fresh way? _____________________ Does it call for action or agreement from the reader? ____________________ Does it maintain the persuasive tone? _______________________ If your answer to any of these questions is no, make necessary corrections and revisions and suggestions.

(13) Skim the essay again. Are there any overused words? ________________ If yes, use a thesaurus and make revisions.

(14) Carefully reread the essay. This time, proofread. Look for mistakes in spelling, capitalization, sentence structure, and punctuation. Make all necessary corrections and revisions.

(15) Now, return the essay to its owner. Discuss any suggestions you made.

(16) After you complete your own final draft (Step Six), you must proofread it before you turn it in. Read it carefully. You could use this set of directions (Step Five) to help you proofread your own final draft.

(17) Staple your final draft (Step Six) to the top of Steps Five, Four, Three, Two, and One—in that order. Make sure that you include your editors’ Steps Five because those are their grades, not yours. If for some reason you fail to complete Step Six, make sure that your turn in your editors’ Steps Five so that they may receive their grades for the work they have completed.


  1. Introduction

    1. Captures the reader’s attention

    2. Introduces the topic

    3. Provides background information

    4. Thesis

  1. 1st reason for/against

    1. Include topic sentence which introduces the content of the paragraph

    2. Advances the essay’s argument, not just to describe the content of the paragraph

    3. A parenthetical citation may be suitable

  1. Opposing arguments to 1st reason with a rebuttal

    1. Present opposition’s claims

    2. Then show that the previous reason (paragraph #2) is stronger

    3. A parenthetical citation may be suitable

  1. 2nd and stronger reason for/against

    1. Include topic sentence which introduces the content of the paragraph

    2. Advances the essay’s argument, not just to describe the content of the paragraph

    3. A parenthetical citation may be suitable

  1. Opposing arguments to 2nd reason with a rebuttal

    1. Present opposition’s claims

    2. Then show that the previous reason (paragraph #4) is stronger

    3. A parenthetical citation may be suitable

  1. 3rd and strongest reason for/against

    1. Include topic sentence which introduces the content of the paragraph

    2. Advances the essay’s argument, not just to describe the content of the paragraph

    3. A parenthetical citation may be suitable

  1. Opposing arguments to 3rd reason with a rebuttal

    1. Present opposition’s claims

    2. Then show that the previous reason (paragraph #6) is stronger

    3. A parenthetical citation may be suitable

  1. Conclusion

    1. Restate the main idea

    2. Present one or two general sentences which accurately summarize the arguments

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