First Things

Your paper begins when you first identify your topic.  When writing a persuasive or argumentative essay, you are presenting your ideas and opinions about your essay topic.

To begin:

  • identify your central topic (example: bicycle helmets)
  • identify your perspective and the context (example:  context is rider safety; perspective is bicycle helmets increase rider safety) - this is the basis for your thesis statement
  • identify possible sub-topics (example:  types of helmets; types of accidents; age of cyclists; experience of cyclists; type of bicycle activity - road riding; mountain biking; etc.)
  • determine which sub-topics you wish to include in your essay - this often depends on available research and what you want to emphasize
  • research each sub-topic and identify how it supports/contradicts your thesis statement
    • record citation information for each article, book, video, web page, etc. you find
    • organize your results by sub-topic
    • each sub-topic would provide the basis for one paragraph
  • write a topic sentence for each paragraph
  • write your paper integrating relevant information into the appropriate paragraph
  • write a concluding paragraph
  • compile your reference page
  • make use of the writing help available to review and revise
Templates to help you get organized: