Elements ofPersuasive Writing
Claims and Premises
Claim– the core of an argument; a statement of the opinion that the writer supports with reasoning and evidencePremise– a reason that supports the validity of a claim.Thesis– a one-sentence statement of the writer’s argument containing a claim and at least one premise.
The thesis is the most important sentence in the essay. It is the main point of the essay boiled down into one sentence.There is nothing new about the thesis. Even the ancient Greeks knew that any successful argument needed to appeal to the reader through logic and reason.Logicmeans that the idea conveyed is expected.Reasonis sound judgment or good sense. Combined these can have a profound impact on your ability to convince the reader to embrace the same opinion as you.
An illustration…duct tape
Reasons that duct tape is the most ingenious and versatile tool ever invented.It’s vital to national security. It was first used by the US Army to create a watertight seal on ammunition boxes.It’s out of this world. NASA astronauts carry duct tape on moon missions. It played a part in saving the Apollo 13 mission, and it was used to repair a fender on the lunar rover on the Apollo 17 mission.It’s a fashion statement. Entire wardrobes have been created with duct tape: pants, belts, purses, wallets, hats, visors, ties and even prom dresses.
It is a medical miracle. One medical study reported that duct tape was useful in the treatment of warts, and it can be used for first aid as a temporary suture to close up a wound.It’s kind to animals. Hunters sometimes tape it to the bottom of a hunting dog’s feet where the terrain is rough and full of burrs. Bee keepers use it to seal their bee hives when transporting hives.
Breaking it down…
While this may be a the most humorous attempt, it does illustrate a logical structure.First, it provides the reader with aclaim. “Duct tape is the most ingenious and versatile tool ever invented.”The claim is then followed with five clearpremises(reasons) that support the claim.
A complete thesis must contain aclaimand at least onepremise.These two components will provide the writer with a clear plan of how to organize the essay.A clear thesis will provide the reader with a sneak preview of where the essay is going.
Planning the thesis:
Claim: Duct tape is the most ingenious and versatile toll ever invented.Premise 1: It’s vital to national security.Premise 2: It’s a medical miracle.Premise 3: It’s a fashion statement.
A clear thesis…
Duct tape is the most ingenious and versatile tool ever invented because it’s vital to national security, it’s a medical miracle, and it’s a fashion statement.Remember two keys steps:State what your claim is (the “what”).Tell why your claim is valid (the “why”).
Imagine you are trying to persuade your parents to extend your curfew. You would begin by stating yourclaim.My curfew should be extended by an hour.The next step would be to tell your parents why your claim is valid.
Thenext step would be to tell your parents why your claim is valid.I have never violated my curfew.I have never acted irresponsibly while out at night.I have always called home to inform you of any changes in my evening plans.
My curfew should be extended by one hour because I have never violated my curfew, I have never acted irresponsibly while out at night, and I have always called home to inform you of any changes in my evening plans.
Armed with a solid thesis, you have a foundation for your essay. As the writer you know where you are going. As the reader, you have a clear idea of the road ahead.Once the thesis is established, you are prepared to put the flesh on the bones of your argument.
Select one of the following questions.Brainstorm at least 6-8 possible answers.Construct a thesis that contains a claim and at least three supporting premises (reasons/assertions).Who is the most influential living person?How have computers impacted our society?What is a product you would endorse?What is a key quality to success in today’sworld?