How to Write a Discursive Essay
What is a discursive essay?
A discursive essay is an essay where you are required to write on something, which can be either argued for the topic or against the topic. However, some discursive essays can also be written in a way where you dont have to choose any particular side but to present your views on both the sides in a balanced manner. Sometimes you might also be required to write a discursive essay wherein you dont argue for or against the topic or statement but instead need to present your own unbiased views and opinions on that matter.
Writing a discursive essay forces you to review all aspects and viewpoints of a particular topic, allowing you to think deeper and more critical. There are three types of discursive essays:
- Opinion essay which requires the writer to state their opinion on a topic and then put forward arguments to support it. However, before concluding the essay, the writer must put forward arguments against the topic and say why they are unconvincing.
- For and against essay explains the reasons for and against a particular topic. Before concluding, the writer must state their opinion on the topic by giving their preference.
- Essay suggesting a solution to a problem outlines a problem and explains several ways to solve the problem. In conclusion, the writer should give their opinion on the best solution to the problem and why.
A discursive essay can look like just another argumentative or persuasive essay but the fact is that it differs from both of them as the arguments are presented in a better and balanced manner. Normally, you are required to present your views on the topic in a balanced way after taking consideration of all the factors, which include for and against. While writing a discursive essay, you should follow some conventions as they will not only help you in making the right choice of words and sentences but will also guide you in using the appropriate language for the essay. For example, the voice expressed in the essay should be calm and the tone should be as balanced as possible. Further, you should use a writing structure that can easily alternate from one stand to the other. Like in one paragraph you should be able to write something against a topic and in the next paragraph in favour of the topic/statement, but the transition between the paragraphs should be seamless - as smooth as possible.
One example is using connectives by use of words like equally, similarly in highlighting the similarities of two different paragraphs and where joining two similar paragraphs are required. Another important consideration while writing a discursive essay is that it should have technical and formal language in it. You should always try to use formal language in a discursive essay and do not use informal language, as the very nature of the discursive essay is formal. Other than that, you can also use persuasive writing techniques like the use of imagery, metaphors, repetition, hyperbole, similes, oxymoron, triads, where applicable, but keeping in mind that the structure of the essay remains intact. Otherwise, it will look more like a persuasive essay rather than the discursive one.
As with any other academic essay, a discursive essay also comes with a certain standard structure that other academic essays follow and that is: the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. The points mentioned below will help you become better in writing a discursive essay.
How to Write a Discursive Essay
Structure of a discursive essay
- Start an essay with an introduction that sounds interesting to the readers. Try to avoid generalizations and stereotypes in your approach.
- Give a clear stance in the opening paragraph of the essay itself you can be for or against a topic or statement if the essay asks you to do so. However, in essays that do not require a particular stance, you need to wait till the end to present your own views on the matter.
- In the subsequent paragraphs, try to build your arguments. You might have several arguments for your essay but you should write them in separate paragraphs so that they are coherent and distinct. Whenever you are building your argument either in favour of or against of the topic, you need to provide supporting evidence from internal or external sources to strengthen your argument.
- Make sure you alternate from one argument to the other in an alternate manner, i.e., if you have written the first paragraph in support of the topic, then your second paragraph should be something against the topic and not in support of it. However, the third paragraph could be similar to paragraph one, supporting the topic as before. The next paragraph should be again similar to paragraph two, arguing against the topic. This combination of alternate for and against paragraphs will make your essay look distinct, better and thoroughly researched and will result in a lasting impact on the readers mind.
- After you have put all your thoughts and opinions in the body section, you now need to focus on the ending section, which is the conclusion. To write the conclusion you need to sum up the key points, which you have mentioned in the body paragraphs above and based on the essay type, you can state your final position on the topic/statement, which can be either for or against, or even can be neither of the two. However, whatever you write in the conclusion should resonate with your main body paragraphs. You can also write your personal opinion here if the essay requires you to do so but you should also express it in a logical way, clearly referencing it with your findings in the body paragraphs. Remember that your conclusion is not just a repetition of the arguments you have mentioned in the above body paragraphs but a summary of the main findings.
If you have followed the above points, you will surely find it much easier to write a discursive essay at your school, college or university life.
Discursive Essay Topics: 50 Most Creative Ideas
Good discursive essay topics will force you to review all aspects and viewpoints of a particular subject matter, allowing you to think deeper and more critical. Topics for discursive essays are wide and varied. Below is a comprehensive list of 50 ideas for discursive essays that you can refer to any time.
- Is technology good or bad?
- Comment on the impact of social media on our youth.
- Should cell phones be allowed in school?
- Should there be guidelines/rules about the length of hair for boys in school?
- Should you euthanize cancer patients?
- Are the prices of cars too high?
- Should healthy foods cost more than unhealthy or junk food?
- The best time to exercise is in the morning when you are fresh and energetic.
- Young children should learn about the various religious sects in school, whether it is their chosen faith or not.
- Your marriage is more likely to flourish if it is based on a strong foundation of friendship that was established before the marriage.
- Is the education system as good as it should be?
- White collar crime is worse than blue collar crime.
- What should be the penalty for internet trolling/cyber bullying?
- Is texting and texting apps such as WhatsApp killing the English language?
- Technological advancements are making us lazier.
- Will Google bring about the end of privacy?
- Graffiti is a great form of art expression.
- The music today is not as good as it was before the year 2000.
- Should a parent be on the same social network as their child?
- Sixteen years is the ideal age for a child to commence social media use.
- Women over 35 years old should not give birth.
- Women should be allowed to determine their right to an abortion, with or without the consent of the father.
- Parenting classes should be compulsory for all new parents, regardless of gender, age or ethnic group.
- Time-out is the best and most effective method to discipline a child.
- Has social media created a narcissistic population?
- At what age should a child start doing household chores?
- Is MBA necessary for success in business?
- A child who is continuously exposed to a violent environment will eventually become violent.
- Discuss the pros and cons of home schooling and give your thoughts on which you believe is the best for our nation.
- The world would be better if everyone learned sign language as their second language.
- Single-sex schools are better than co-ed schools.
- Facilities such as a day-care and breastfeeding room should be established at all workplaces for working moms.
- A 20 30 minute afternoon (power) nap should be allowed at work.
- A vegetarian diet is the best one for optimal health.
- Exercising is a must for losing weight.
- The ideal amount of water to be consumed is best determined by the weight and physical activity levels of the person.
- Traditional medicine is better than alternative medicine.
- It is a big world and aliens exist somewhere out there.
- Wearing high heels for a long time will affect your health.
- The correlation between wealth and happiness - If you are wealthy, you are happy.
- If texting while driving has penalties, shouldnt distractions such as drinking coffee while driving have penalties too?
- Smoking tobacco should be illegal.
- Are tattoos a work of art?
- Should cheerleading be recognized as a sport and played in the Olympics?
- Is good grammar still necessary?
- Are zoos an archaic way to view animals? Are there more modern ways to view animals for entertainment?
- Children who play violent video games eventually become violent.
- Reading is a dying art and pastime.
- The parents are to be blamed if a child is obese.
- The fundamental role of women has not changed and will never change, as balancing home and work will never be shared/done 50-50 between husband and wife.
A good discursive essay topic is one in which you can be both passionate and objective about. Choosing a discursive essay topic that you are passionate about will enable you to have a lot of content for the essay. However, you must also be able to be objective so as not to create biases that can affect your ability to appropriately weigh the pros and cons of the subject matter. Try to keep this in mind when choosing your next discursive essay topic.
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Your guide to writing a Discursive Essay
A discursive essay thoroughly investigates an argument by offering two opposing perspectives. It's a practical method of establishing the writer's opinion on a topic and persuading one's stance by exploring the reasons why each view may or may not be valid. The author usually maintains a calm and neutral stance throughout the text to establish an unbiased and informative argument.
1. Define your topic
Before you begin your essay you need to define what the topic is. Discursive essay topics can be about anything, but they are primarily used to argue ideas about controversial topics such as gun control or abortion. You should decide at this point which side you are supporting.
The foundation of any well structured essay is an outline. A discursive essay should have:
- Introduction: The Introduction clearly states the topic and explains why it is important.
- Body: The Body contains the arguments and logic for both sides.
- Conclusion: The Conclusion is where you establish your personal stance on the argument and explain why. Here you explain why it is difficult to establish a solid stance on the topic.
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3. Write 4-6 different points to include in body
"Discursive writing does not argue for or against a point throughout the essay".
Knowing in advance which points you will discuss will help during the actual writing process. Make sure that each point has a counterargument. For example, if you have 3 points for one side, you should have 3 points against it to balance it out. This ensures your argument is unbiased as well as thorough.
Hint: Try to choose strong and valid points that would be difficult to argue against. This makes it more exciting and informative to the reader when you DO introduce its counter-argument.
The points should descend in order from strongest argument to least supportive argument. Alternate back and forth between each perspective to illustrate the argument. Think of it like a "ping-pong" match. The body of the outline should appear as follows:
Each individual argument is a paragraph. The amount of paragraphs is up to your discretion, but if this is for a class there should be at least 4.
4. Fill in the content
Now that you've fully outlined your essay, it's time to flesh it out. Establish credibility by citing valid sources. Don't believe everything you read. Look for scientific studies or valid statistics. Hard facts enrich any argument.
Your tone should be neutral throughout the body, giving each point its turn to truly speak. Try to be as thorough and unbiased as possible.
5. Write a conclusion
In the last paragraph you will wrap up the argument by stating your personal stance on the issue. Try to explain why you feel the way you do, and if you don't actually have an opinion, try to define as to why that is. Mention again why the issue is important and should be evaluated further.
- Stay in formal third person perspective throughout the body.
- Before you begin writing, you should create a "spider-diagram", or "mind-map" to help clearly relate your points.
- When writing the separate arguments, try to pretend as though a person from that specific viewpoint "has the floor". Pretend as though you are trying to convince another person of that viewpoint, even if you don't necessarily agree with it. Make sure to keep a third person writing style, though.
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