How to Write Constructive Essays

Writing a constructive essay is an excellent way to prepare for a debate.

Writing constructive essays is one of the best ways to practice influential writing or prepare for a verbal debate. This type of essay differs from others because it provides factual information, critical analysis and space for more than one viewpoint. However, it subtly and artfully persuades readers to accept your particular perspective. While writing this type of essay, you will be developing your own philosophical viewpoints, your ability to clearly see two or more sides of an argument, and the skill to drive your point home in an effective manner.

Choose a topic that you are passionate about on some level and are interested in delving into more deeply. It should be a topic that is controversial in the sense that drastically differing viewpoints exist on the matter and many people may be struggling to decide which "side of the fence" they are on. You do not necessarily have to know which side you will argue right away.

Conduct research on your topic of choice and investigate all of the various different ways it can be viewed. For example, if you choose the topic of whether or not abortion should be legal, you will want to look into religious viewpoints, societal implications, population problems, US law and women's rights. Once you have all of the information at your fingertips, choose which side you will argue. You can choose the side you have a natural inclination for -- or choose the opposite side to develop the ability to argue impartially.

Write the introductory paragraph of the essay by explaining the problem in general terms. Do not emphasize one or the other or attach any emotions at this point. This could mean simply stating some general facts about the historical resistance to abortion, when it became legal, women's rights advocates and religious groups that oppose them.

Illustrate all of the various conflicting views on the issue in more detail and in an unbiased manner. Show the readers that you have the capability of understanding more than one perspective. Zone in on the viewpoint that is opposite to the one you plan on arguing for, showing readers how it is not altogether unreasonable. Having sympathy for both sides of the argument will make readers more sympathetic to you and more likely to trust the reasoning behind your train of thought.

Focus on your side of the argument in the next paragraph. Provide justifications for opposing the viewpoints that were mentioned in the previous paragraph. Execute this in a manner that does not come off as preachy or dogmatic, which could result in losing the sympathy of the readers. Maintain a voice of reason but slip in moments of conviction and passion when it seems appropriate.

Take into consideration the possible objections that will result from your last paragraph and defend against them. Write about these objections as though you are inviting the objections, and avoid sounding defensive or condemning. Rationally explain why your viewpoint is more solid or sound than these objecting viewpoints.

Conclude your essay by briefly covering the exposition of ideas again, and stating in a firm and practical manner why the perspective you are arguing is the best way to view the topic. Make sure you final sentence is a strong statement of the viewpoint that would be difficult to argue with.

  • Don't be too convincing when illustrating the opposing viewpoints. Maintain a balance that shows they are not unreasonable, but which still leaves them wide open for objection.

Ashley Schaeffer has been writing professionally since 2005, specializing in arts-and-entertainment, health and wellness topics. She has written extensively for "Buzzine Magazine," the culture and entertainment publication of Richard Elfman. Schaeffer holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in comparative literature and Spanish, both from UC Berkeley, and is pursuing a master's degree in counseling psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.