Discursive essays As part of your course, you may be asked to write a discursive essay. Discursive essays are those in which you have to explain or discuss a concept or idea. For example, you might see a question like this for your discursive writing assignment: Capital punishment acts as a deterrent to crime. Please discuss. For an essay question like this one, you should first think about what position you are going to take on the topic. In other words, decide if you are going to agree with the statement or not. Then you should jot down two or three reasons for your opinion or viewpoint as you plan your essay. Discursive compositions can vary in length, but normally you will be expected to write between 300 and 500 words. That means you should prepare an essay that has four or five paragraphs. Your first paragraph is your introduction and your last paragraph is your conclusion. Paragraphs two, three, and four need to give your reasons and explanations for the stand you are taking. Remember to give examples to illustrate your viewpoint. Also don't forget to proofread your essay when you have finished writing it.