Article of the Week

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!



Informative, Descriptive, and Persuasive Writing

All writing aims to inform, describe, or persuade. Often, a single piece of writing tries to do all three. An article about a football game will tell readers what happened in the game, describe important plays, and may even persuade readers that certain schemes and decisions led to the final score. Descriptive essays present an experience for the reader; you might use this form to write a how-to essay or to explain how a product works. Informative essays explain the most important information about a subject. Persuasive essays argue for a specific point-of-view on an issue. 

  1. Know Your Audience
  2. Include Counter-Arguments
  3. Illustrate General Ideas with Specific Examples
  4. Carefully Select Descriptive Details

Know Your Audience 

Before you begin writing, you should develop a good sense of what your audience knows, and how it feels, about a subject. It is usually helpful to address your audience's previous conceptions about the topic and provide some background information to the reader. For instance, if you are writing about concussions, your reader may have heard coaches ask their players to “tough it out” after a concussion, and may dismiss the seriousness of the injury.

 

Include Counter-Arguments

If you are trying to persuade readers to join your side, you’ll want to address other arguments that they might believe or be familiar with. Both sides of many issues have some merit, and you can’t properly argue for your side without acknowledging the opposing arguments. However, you should also explain why the benefits of the opposing sides are not as important as they are alleged to be. While this step is important, make sure you spend the majority of a persuasive essay focused on your side of the argument instead.

 

Illustrate General Ideas with Specific Examples

The thesis, or main point of your paper, is a general idea that you must prove or illustrate using specific examples. Your body paragraphs should address the reasons why your thesis is correct. Begin each with a topic sentence that states the main point of the paragraph and connects it to your thesis. Each paragraph should have at least two different pieces of evidence, ideally from different sources.  You should state each piece of evidence, cite it appropriately, and then spend several sentences explaining its relevance and analyzing why it supports your argument.  Since evidence can be used in many ways to support different arguments, you must remind your reader how each piece of evidence proves your point.  After presenting and explaining your evidence, you should briefly summarize that paragraph and relate it back to your thesis.  The final sentence of your paragraph should read like a mini-thesis pertaining to that paragraph, and bring your argument from that paragraph back into the big picture of your argument.

 

Carefully Select Descriptive Details

As you move through your paragraphs, you want to make sure that you are providing adequate descriptions. It is usually better to spend more time describing selected aspects of your topic in great detail than it is to try to cover them all briefly. Saying “Some apples have a pink color” gives your reader a general idea about color, but provides little specific detail. Instead, you should use some combination of adjectives to convey the absolute detail of the apple. In this case, it would be better to say, “Some apples, such as Pink Ladies, Galas, and Jacksons, have a pinkish-red color, a hybrid between the bright red of a strawberry and the pinkish-crème of a peach; this color does not cover the entire apple, but blends in with white areas near the stem and base, and sometimes grass-green spots.” This is much more descriptive because it specifies which apples we’re talking about, makes a real-world reference to the color that the reader can imagine, and acknowledges that the apple is not a single shade, but a mixture of colors.