Persuasive writing is an extremely important skill, whether you are selling something, writing for a cause or for your own satisfaction (or for your class!). Persuasive writing can be described as an argument or piece of writing that an author uses to convince his audience of a point or topic. This could potentially be to call the reader to action or it could simply be to convince the reader of an opinion or view.
Topic & Thesis
The first step in persuasive writing is choosing what you want to write about. Usually the easiest and most effective topics focus on something specific, rather than an extremely broad topic. More specific topics generally can be explained and supported more easily than extremely broad topics.
After you have determined your topic, you should then develop your thesis. A thesis is the primary argument that your essay will attempt to support. Thesis should be arguable points, not facts. If you are selling something, your thesis is “why you should buy this.”
Click here for a list of Persuasive Writing Topics
The next part of writing effective persuasive essays is choosing your supporting points. Supporting points are the reasons that you use to prove and support your thesis. Support is the largest part of your essay, and is used to show your reader why your thesis is true. Within these supporting points you should include facts, logic, expert opinions and statistics to further your point and thesis. Additionally, you can use emotion evoking stories to attempt to connect with your audience. Research should be done to support your points.
Your supporting points should be mapped out before you even begin writing your essay, developing an outline is a good way of doing this. The structure of your supporting points is very important; one supporting point should usually lead into another, although they don’t always have to.
After you have determined your topic and thesis, you should begin targeting and researching your audience. In order to convince somebody of something, you must first know who you are writing to. For example, one might take a different approach in writing to industrialists about climate change than when writing to college students about the same subject.
Choosing an audience is extremely important, and is a crucial step that many people forget to take into consideration when writing. Many people think that they are writing to everyone when they write persuasively, this may be true for some subjects, like why breathing oxygen is important, but for most there is usually a target that you may not even realize. The reason this step is so important is because different audiences will have different reactions to what you write, and you want to target the right reactions – you want to connect with people.
The next step in this process is to attempt to identify what the beliefs and characteristics of the audience you are writing to are. This includes the reasons why your audience might disagree with your views or what inhibitions they would have before doing what you are trying to persuade them. Also it is important to know why this cause is important to an audience.
Understanding your audience is also vital because it is very important not to offend your audience, as this will definitely turn them off to any persuasion.
Modes of Persuasion:
The next step in persuasive writing is knowing how to connect with your audience. There are three basic ways to do this, which are known as the modes of persuasion .
Persuasion through the authority of the author, known as Ethos,
Ethos can be developed by choosing language that is appropriate for the audience and topic (also means choosing proper level of vocabulary), making yourself sound fair or unbiased, introducing your expertise or pedigree, and by using correct grammar and syntax.
Persuasion through use of logic and facts, known as Logos,
Logos can be developed by citing facts and statistics (very important), using advanced and well developed language, using historical incidents, analogies, and by constructing logical arguments.
Persuasion through use of emotion and sympathy, known as Pathos
Pathos can be developed by using meaningful language, emotional tone, emotion evoking examples, stories of emotional events, and implied meanings.
Most of the work in persuasive writing is knowing how to use these methods effectively.
Anticipating and responding to arguments against your point are important parts of persuasive writing. A response to a counter arguments varies based on the validity of the counterargument.
In some cases, when a counterargument is completely frivolous, you can completely dismiss it using facts and logic. However sometimes you may have to concede parts – or even the entire argument to the opposing point. In these situations is important to show the audience why this argument is not important/less important to the big picture of
your argument.Acknowledging counterarguments contributes to Ethos, and makes the author seem more fair and balanced in the eyes of the reader.
More Tips and Techniques for Persuasive writing:
Drawing sympathy from your audience is one of the most effective forms of persuasion. This is especially true if your paper is focused around a certain problem or is a passionate topic. This technique is called using pathos. You can use this to draw both negative and positive emotions.
Emotions are a powerful tool. In order to use your audience’s emotion to your advantage, you must understand why something is important to your audience. Then you should focus on this importance, and make your audience feel the emotions associated with it. After you draw on their emotions, you should present your thesis as a solution to their pain or pleasure.
For example: If you are writing about wind as a source of renewable energy, to an audience of predominately older people, you could describe to them the consequences their children will face if this level of harm towards the environment persists. In this case, the fate of your audience’s children is important to your audiences. After you have drawn upon their sympathy, you should present to your audience why wind power will offer a solution to this.
If you are writing about equal rights to a predominately white audience, you could and try to place your audience in the shoes of someone who is being discriminated against. In this case human rights are important to your audience. After you have drawn upon your audience’s sympathy, you could show them why laws pertaining to equal rights are important.
Make Your Reader a Part of Something:
Feeling like a part of a group or club makes everyone feel good. Make your reader feel like they are a part of a group of people by agreeing with your thesis, while seemingly excluding those who don’t.
If your topic is convincing readers of climate change, you could make your readers feel like a part of a group of progressive enlightened people by agreeing with you.
Look into the Future:
Making assumptions about the future gives your audience a clear choice in deciding what to think after reading your writing. This technique can be especially useful if you are attempting to call your audience to action. Painting a grim future for the inaction of your thesis can be a powerful tool for persuading your audience; likewise you should describe a brighter future where your thesis is enacted. IE, this is what will happen if you listen to me, this is what will happen if you don’t.
However, this technique should only be used if you can adequately convince your readers that what you are saying will happen or is likely to happen. Using this technique improperly can actually discredit your entire essay and make you seem like a fool.
Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statements
A strong thesis statement…
Ø Avoids using the first person or phrases like “I believe” or “I think”
Ø Serves as a guide to your essay for your reader
Ø Asserts your conclusion and takes a stand on the author’s rhetorical strategies
Ø States what techniques you will be analyzing, and the impact of these techniques on the effectiveness of the text.
Examples of strong thesis statements:
© Jones effectively convinces his audience that ---- through the use of statistics and surveys paired with emotional stories.
© Although Myers includes many convincing logical arguments through the use of historical facts, her readers may doubt her objectivity because of her sarcastic tone.
© Thompson uses personal stories and tells of his extensive research in the area to make his readers believe in his credibility. These appeals to ethos, combined with his friendly tone, creates an effective argument for ----.
© Roberts employs the rhetorical appeals of pathos and ethos effectively. However, his use of unsupported logical appeals causes his readers to doubt his claim that ---- is supported by research.
© Mitchell’s attempt to convince the audience that ----- is unsuccessful because of his insensitive word choice and angry tone.
Note:The above thesis statements all include the original author’s purpose/thesis.Your thesis does not have to include this in your thesis statement as long as it appears in the introduction.
A strong thesis statement is NOT…
Ø a simple statement of your topic
Ø a broad statement
Ø a statement of facts or statistics
Ø a summary of the author’s essay you are analyzing
Ø a statement of what your going to do in the essay
Examples of weak thesis statements:
© Abortion is a big issue in the .
© The author claims abortion is a big issue in the .
© I’m going to examine how this author uses pathos, ethos, and logos to convince his audience.
© The author uses pathos, ethos and logos.
Revising your Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement