Writing a discursive piece can be a daunting task. Discursive texts give us a considerable amount of freedom in terms of how we may structure our piece, which perspectives we will explore, and the writing style we adopt. This can be an exciting opportunity to express our own opinion and use our voice, however the lack of a standard structure may mean it can be difficult to know where to start. The form demands that we explore a range of perspectives on a topic. This means looking at an issue from many sides, and potentially coming up with our own opinions. A personal discursive piece is often a relatable provoking discussion and could end with a reflective resolution but no clear argument. We will then unpack the various perspectives we have explored through employing figurative language, anecdotes, statistics, quotes and other literary devices.
Here is the definition of discursive texts from the NSW Department of Education:
“Discursive texts are those whose primary focus is to explore an idea or a variety of topics. These texts involve the discussion of an idea(s) or opinion(s) without the direct intention of persuading the reader, listener or viewer to adopt any single point of view.
Discursive texts can be humorous or serious in tone and can have a formal or informal register. These texts include texts such as feature articles, creative nonfiction, blogs, personal essays, documentaries and speeches.
Discursive is about exploring a range of perspectives on an argument. We can flicker between two perspectives. Then we unpack these perspectives by using figurative language to express ‘evidence’ for these perspectives in the wider World.”
We can be as personal as we want! Use any kind of tone, and we can even incorporate humour in our writing – just remember to use it in moderation.
We are able to venture through our own personal thoughts, beliefs, and life experiences, which might be more interesting to write about.
Our piece can be open-ended, and you definitely don’t need to have a conclusive point that you have to prove.
Sometimes, the freedom we have in a discursive text can be intimidating and we might not know where to start
Structure and language-wise, a discursive text is really flexible, but this means that our ideas have to be very insightful, well thought out and complex, while our writing needs to be strong and effective.
It’s easy to accidentally write a persuasive text instead! The way around this is to remember that you aren’t trying to argue for a specific point, you’re exploring different ideas. That means you don’t and shouldn’t talk about only one side of the argument, but think about counter-arguments, or at least different perspectives.
Deciding on a topic for the discursive text is an important first step; the topic must be a compelling and nuanced (or complicated) issue that you can write extensively about. Discursive texts often reflect social concerns, controversial topics or raise significant questions. Along with researched evidence on the chosen topic, to spice it up, make sure you include examples from real life experiences, quotes, interviews, references to popular culture, historical events and/or personal anecdotes. Importantly, a discursive piece does not need a clear conclusion! If you are struggling to come up with a central topic, consider some issues that impact or otherwise matter to us, e.g. your community (family, friends, local neighbourhood, school etc.), or the wider society (national or international).
To begin with the introduction, introduce your main overarching point that directly addresses the question. Remember to avoid writing an overly argumentative or one-sided thesis! The purpose of a discursive is to discuss more than one perspective. Instead, invite the readers to consider the complexities of a topic, and to introduce the many different perspectives on that topic.
Here’s an example :
Argumentative thesis: Unlimited access to technology has had a devastating impact on the social skills of using people.
Discursive thesis: Technology has, for better and worse, irreversibly changed the way we interact with each other. However, as much as things have changed ever since the first message sent on MSN there are some things that, for better and worse, remain the same.
Discursive texts are really everywhere! Opinion pieces in newspapers are an example – we’ll notice that many of them explore more than one perspective. Other examples include essays we’ll read, speeches and lectures. Many TedX talks are actually discursive as well. Notice some of them explore many different perspectives and angles on a specific idea!
We can find some of the best examples of discursive writing in newspapers, as well as news sites. Below are some examples to get us started. Explore and find where else you might notice discursive writing!
If you’d like to see discursive examples right now, send us an email and we’ll send some over to your email. You’ll also get a scaffold to write your own discursive!