26 The Issues Essay – Using Argument and Persuasion

 Writing an Issues Essay 

You have now had practice in understanding, creating, and refining writing in a few rhetorical modes. As we arrive at the Issues Essay, I am asking that you put to use most, if not all, of the critical skills you have gained in writing so far. As such, you will be required to do outside research, on a topic of your choice, and to present it by utilizing the principles of argumentative/persuasive writing and perhaps by employing the tenets you are familiar with in the way of description/narration and comparison/contrast. As is the case with all of the writing you have done up to this point, the Issues Essay is a progressive undertaking. In the most basic sense, this essay should be thought of as a means of illustrating your argument and providing research to support it. You should also take into consideration the idea of being persuasive, as part of your purpose entails displaying an ability to convince the reader that he/she should buy what you are selling. This is where careful planning may aid you and I encourage you to create an outline, or some sense of a structure, before you even draft the essay. Doing so will help show how your paper will come together eventually and in what order the research will unfold so that your sources continually support your argument as it advances. While I am suggesting that you complete said outline, it is not a requirement. As the essay progresses, you will need to flesh out the paper with a proper introduction, have a proper thesis statement (likely at the end of the introductory paragraph), have your argument develop with research to support it, and have a proper MLA Works Cited page (you may do APA if you clear it with me). In the end, this is a more demanding task than your previous essays and, as such, you should use your time wisely over the next several weeks.

Argument & Persuasion

  • An argument makes a point (it is your informed perspective) backed up by evidence that continually supports your claim → your opinion is not enough.
  • An argument accounts for all audience needs → seek to convince your reader(s) and account for counter-arguments or rebuttals → challenge the arguments of those against you and show them why you are right.
  • A solid argument recognizes and accounts for the intricacies of a subject → do not oversimplify the complexity of the issue(s) or boil it down to basics if the subject is multifaceted → it will make you look like you are uninformed and will not convince any reader(s) that you know what you are talking about.
  • Must be a logical connection between evidence and argument(s) → you need sound reasoning to support your argument(s) and cover your claims → make sure your research supports your reasoning otherwise it is a logical fallacy.
  • Purpose → seek to move the reader(s) intellectually, not emotionally → emotion leads you away from logic → present yourself as a reasonable person not one who will convince by browbeating the reader(s).


  1. Think about audience and purpose → this will likely inform your structure and allow you  to account for rebuttals/counterarguments.
  2. Develop a “working thesis” → word it in a way that accounts for your argument instead of stating a fact or asking a question → use the “thesis triangle” below.
  3. Plan the organization of your essay → outline, if necessary → it can be altered and amended later, but have some idea of where you’re going. Think about:

a) Drafting your introduction first

b) Deciding where to put your thesis next

c) Organizing your reasons in a purposeful way

d) Providing support for each aspect/part of your argument(s) and consider the amount, type, and placement of research that you will need to convince your reader that your perspective is sound

e) Concluding by restating your argument(s), but also projecting the future of your topic several years from now if we adopt your perspective and make the changes you’re arguing for

       *Your thesis statement should include your argument/perspective so that your readers know what awaits them after advancing past your introduction.*
For more in-depth notes, a sample essay, and helpful videos for both these rhetorical modes, please click here for argumentation and here for further insight on argument and persuasion.


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