Writing to a Prompt: The Persuasive Essay



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Writing to a Prompt: The Persuasive Essay

  • Mrs. C. Wishart
  • Literacy Coach
  • © 2012 by Catherine Wishart. All rights reserved.

The Persuasive Essay Structure

  • A simple way to write a persuasive essay is to use 5 paragraphs, just like most essays.
  • A persuasive essay must have a stance. That means that you have to choose a side.
  • A persuasive essay also must try to convince the reader that your stance is correct.

How Do I Do All That in 5 Paragraphs?

  • In the introduction, you can explain what some people think.
  • Use “However,” to explain what you think.
  • List three reasons why you think your stance is correct.
  • In the body paragraphs, explain each point to prove why you are correct.
  • In the conclusion, explain how the reader can change to your way of thinking.

The Key

  • What do you disagree with?
  • Why do you disagree?
  • How can the reader change to your side?

Example of a Prompt

  • Tween Tribune reported that Alabama Judge John Bush sent LaMarcus Ramsey to jail for three days for wearing saggy pants to court. Ramsey was charged with having stolen property. Judge Bush felt that wearing saggy pants to court was disrespectful.
  • Do you think Judge Bush should have sent Ramsey to jail? Write a letter to Judge Bush and explain what you think.

Planning a Response to This Prompt: The Introductory Paragraph

  • State what people who don’t agree with you think in the first sentence.
  • Use the word “However,” to begin the next sentence.
  • State what you believe and then give three reasons why you believe it in the next sentence.
  • Your introductory paragraph will be very short (only two sentences), but your reader will know what you think and why you think it.

A Sample Response to This Prompt: The Introduction

  • Dear Judge Bush,
  • Some people think that Ramsey should have gone to jail for wearing saggy pants. However, I think Ramsey should not have gone to jail because it’s not against the law to wear saggy pants, many people wear saggy pants, and he was not in court for wearing saggy pants.

The Second Paragraph: Answering the First Part of the Thesis Statement

  • Thesis statement: However, I think Ramsey should not have gone to jail because it’s not against the law to wear saggy pants, many people wear saggy pants, and he was not in court for wearing saggy pants.
  • This paragraph should explain that it’s not against the law to wear saggy pants.

A Sample Response to This Prompt: The Second Paragraph

  • First of all, it isn’t illegal to wear saggy pants. I don’t know of any law that says people cannot wear saggy pants. Since the point of putting someone in jail is because that person broke the law, Ramsey should not have been sent to prison. The reason that there is no law about wearing clothing is because Americans believe in a person’s right to be different. This is a right that makes our country special.

The Third Paragraph: Answering the Second Part of the Thesis

  • Thesis statement: However, I think Ramsey should not have gone to jail because it’s not against the law to wear saggy pants, many people wear saggy pants, and he was not in court for wearing saggy pants.
  • The third paragraph should explain that many people wear saggy pants.

A Sample Response to This Prompt: The Third Paragraph

  • Second of all, lots of people wear saggy pants. Some people sag their pants by accident and some people sag them on purpose. While I don’t sag my pants, it doesn’t bother me when other people do. People dress differently to reflect their personalities. Since so many people like the look of pants that sag, it has become normal to see this look in different places, even at court.

The Fourth Paragraph: Answering the Third Part of the Thesis

  • Thesis statement: However, I think Ramsey should not have gone to jail because it’s not against the law to wear saggy pants, many people wear saggy pants, and he was not in court for wearing saggy pants.
  • The fourth paragraph should explain that he was not in court for wearing saggy pants.

A Sample Response to This Prompt: The Fourth Paragraph

  • Finally, Ramsey was not in court for wearing saggy pants. He was in court to decide if he was guilty of having stolen property. We often hear that courts are overcrowded and that it is hard to get a court date. To put his trial off because of the way he was dressed seems like it was a waste of time. Instead of paying attention to his saggy pants, it would have been better to have paid attention to the reason he was in court to begin with.

The Fifth Paragraph: Planning the Conclusion

  • Start out with “In conclusion, while some people believe…” (put in the opposite of your stance),
  • State what you believe to finish the first sentence.
  • Restate your thesis statement. Try to use synonyms.
  • Explain how you would like the reader to come around to your way of thinking. Often, you can begin this by saying, “Instead of… why not….”
  • If you are writing a letter, thank the reader for the time it took to read the letter.

A Sample Response to This Prompt: The Fifth Paragraph

  • In conclusion, while some people believe that you were correct to put Ramsey in jail for wearing saggy pants to court, I believe this was a bad decision. Ramsey should not have gone to prison because his pants weren’t illegal, tons of people wear the same style of pants, and the focus should have been on the real reason he was in court. Instead of sending the next person who comes to court in saggy pants to prison, why not give the person a lecture and have him pull his pants up? Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.

The Closing

  • If you are writing a letter, remember to include a closing.
  • You should choose from the following:
    • Sincerely,
    • Sincerely yours,
    • Yours truly,
  • Using a closing will keep the format of the letter consistent. It will impress the reader!

Putting It All Together

  • Dear Judge Bush,
  • Some people think that Ramsey should have gone to jail for wearing saggy pants. However, I think Ramsey should not have gone to jail because it’s not against the law to wear saggy pants, many people wear saggy pants and he was not in court for wearing saggy pants.
  • First of all, it isn’t illegal to wear saggy pants. I don’t know of any law that says people cannot wear saggy pants. Since the point of putting someone in jail is because that person broke the law, Ramsey should not have been sent to prison. The reason that there is no law about wearing clothing is because Americans believe in a person’s right to be different. This is a right that makes our country special.
  • Second of all, lots of people wear saggy pants. Some people sag their pants by accident and some people sag them on purpose. While I don’t sag my pants, it doesn’t bother me when other people do. People dress differently to reflect their personalities. Since so many people like the look of pants that sag, it has become normal to see this look in different places, even at court.
  • Finally, Ramsey was not in court for wearing saggy pants. He was in court to decide if he was guilty of having stolen property. We often hear that courts are overcrowded and that it is hard to get a court date. To put his trial off because of the way he was dressed seems like it was a waste of time. Instead of paying attention to his saggy pants, it would have been better to have paid attention to the reason he was in court to begin with.
  • In conclusion, while some people believe that you were correct to put Ramsey in jail for wearing saggy pants to court, I believe this was a bad decision. Ramsey should not have gone to prison because his pants weren’t illegal, tons of people wear the same style of pants, and the focus should have been on the real reason he was in court. Instead of sending the next person who comes to court in saggy pants to prison, why not give the person a lecture and have him pull his pants up? Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.
  • Sincerely yours,

What if You Take the Same Side as the Person You are Writing To?

  • You can still follow the same process.
  • The introduction can be set up the same way. Tell the reader “While some people believe,” then state your stance.
  • Give your thesis statement in the first paragraph.

Taking the Other Side: The Introductory Paragraph

  • Dear Judge Bush,
  • Some people believe that Ramsey should not have gone to jail for wearing saggy pants to court. However, I believe that Ramsey should have been sent to jail for wearing saggy pants to court because people shouldn’t show their underwear in public, some people could be offended by the way he was dressed, and it is disrespectful to the court.

The Second Paragraph: Answering the First Part of the Thesis

  • Thesis statement: However, I believe that Ramsey should have been sent to jail for wearing saggy pants to court because people shouldn’t show their underwear in public, some people could be offended by the way he was dressed, and it is disrespectful to the court.
  • This paragraph should explain why people shouldn’t show their underwear in public.

Taking the Other Side: The Second Paragraph

  • First of all, people should keep their underwear private. Underwear is meant to be worn under other clothes. It is not meant to be seen by people who are out in public. When Ramsey sagged his pants, his underwear was probably showing. Displaying underwear in public is something that drives me crazy. I don’t need to see what color anyone’s boxers are.

The Third Paragraph: Answering the Second Part of the Thesis

  • Thesis statement: However, I believe that Ramsey should have been sent to jail for wearing saggy pants to court because people shouldn’t show their underwear in public, some people could be offended by the way he was dressed, and it is disrespectful to the court.
  • The third paragraph should explain why some people could be offended by the way he was dressed.

Taking the Other Side: The Third Paragraph

  • Second of all, some people could be offended by the way he was dressed. When people go out in public, they have the right to expect other people to be dressed properly. Saggy pants make the person wearing them look like his clothes are ready to fall off his body. This look can be distasteful. There are enough other things that can upset people without having to see someone dressing the way Ramsey dressed.

The Fourth Paragraph: Answering the Third Part of the Thesis

  • Thesis statement: However, I believe that Ramsey should have been sent to jail for wearing saggy pants to court because people shouldn’t show their underwear in public, some people could be offended by the way he was dressed, and it is disrespectful to the court.
  • The fourth paragraph should explain why it is disrespectful to the court.

Taking the Other Side: The Fourth Paragraph

  • Finally, wearing saggy pants was disrespectful to the court. A court of law is a formal place where serious work is done. By wearing saggy pants, Ramsey was acting as if he didn’t take court seriously. He was there for charges of having stolen property. This is a severe charge. By wearing his clothes the way he did, he was showing a lack of respect for the court and for you, the judge.

The Fifth Paragraph: Planning The Conclusion

  • Start out with “In conclusion, while some people believe…” (put in the opposite of your stance),
  • State what you believe to finish the first sentence.
  • Restate your thesis statement. Try to use synonyms.
  • Explain how you would like the reader to come around to your way of thinking. Often, you can begin this by saying, “Instead of… why not….”
  • If you are writing a letter, thank the reader for the time it took to read the letter.

Taking the Other Side: The Conclusion

  • In conclusion, while some people believe that Ramsey should not have gone to jail for wearing saggy pants, I believe you were correct to send him to jail for wearing saggy pants to court. Ramsey should have been put in prison for wearing pants that sagged to court because underwear should be worn under clothes, some people could be insulted, and courts deserve the respect of dressing properly. Instead of getting angry that you sent him to jail, why not understand that court is a serious place? Thank you for taking the time to read my views.

Putting It All Together

  • Dear Judge Bush,
  • Some people believe that Ramsey should not have gone to jail for wearing saggy pants to court. However, I believe that Ramsey should have been sent to jail for wearing saggy pants to court because people shouldn’t show their underwear in public, some people could be offended by the way he was dressed, and it is disrespectful to the court.
  • First of all, people should keep their underwear private. Underwear is meant to be worn under other clothes. It is not meant to be seen by people who are out in public. When Ramsey sagged his pants, his underwear was probably showing. Displaying underwear in public is something that drives me crazy. I don’t need to see what color anyone’s boxers are.
  • Second of all, some people could be offended by the way he was dressed. When people go out in public, they have the right to expect other people to be dressed properly. Saggy pants make the person wearing them look like his clothes are ready to fall off his body. This look can be distasteful. There are enough other things that can upset people without having to see someone dressing the way Ramsey dressed.
  • Finally, wearing saggy pants was disrespectful to the court. A court of law is a formal place where serious work is done. By wearing saggy pants, Ramsey was acting as if he didn’t take court seriously. He was there for charges of having stolen property. This is a severe charge. By wearing his clothes the way he did, he was showing a lack of respect for the court and for you, the judge.
  • In conclusion, while some people believe that Ramsey should not have gone to jail for wearing saggy pants, I believe you were correct to send him to jail for wearing saggy pants to court. Ramsey should have been put in prison for wearing pants that sagged to court because underwear should be worn under clothes, some people could be insulted, and courts deserve the respect of dressing properly. Instead of getting angry that you sent him to jail, why not understand that court is a serious place? Thank you for taking the time to read my views.
  • Sincerely,

What if You Can’t Think of Three Reasons for Your Stance?

  • If you can’t come up with three reasons for your stance, make sure that you can come up with at least two reasons for your stance.
  • If you can decide on two reasons, write a four paragraph essay instead of a five paragraph essay.
  • Make sure that you write at least four paragraphs.

Make a Choice: Which Prompt Interests You the Most?

  • The United States Congress has finished it study. This study indicates that television violence has a negative effect on student behavior at school. Congress is considering banning all violence on television until after 10:00 p.m.
  • Do you agree or disagree with the idea of passing a law to ban violence on TV before 10:00 p.m.? Write a letter to your Congressman explaining how you feel and why you feel that way. Use specific examples to support your response.
  • In order to save money, your school principal is considering cancelling all field trips for next year.
  • Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Write a letter to your principal explaining what you think and why you think the idea is good or should be abandoned. Use specific examples to support your response.

Don’t Forget

  • If you can write an essay, you can write a persuasive essay.
  • Remember to include details in the essay.
  • Remember to answer What-Why-How.
  • Bump up the content of your essay by including some figurative language, such as:

Revise My Work, Please!

  • In the two letters written here, there is no figurative language.
  • Look at the copy of the letter you have in front of you.
  • With a partner, decide if you can add figurative language into the letter.
  • If you can add figurative language into each paragraph, all the better!

Bibliography

  • Peeha, Steve. “The Writing Teacher’s Strategy Guide. Teaching that Makes Sense. Web. 25 April 2012. http://ttms.org
  • "'Pants on the Ground' Land Man in Jail." Tween Tribune. Tween Tribune, 12 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. .

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