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What Is Persuasive Writing?
Persuasive writing is a form of argumentative writing that presents logical arguments with emotional appeal in order to sway readers to a particular point of view. Where an argumentative essay introduces both sides of a debate and allows the reader to make an informed choice, a persuasive essay is about the inclusion of information that supports your thesis statement, only involving counterarguments as a means to discredit them.
Persuasive pieces appear in various forms of marketing. Advertisements often tug on heartstrings to influence people to buy a product or service. Health magazines publish columns about new must-try diets. Travel brochures convince you where the next trendiest vacation spot is. Persuasive writing is everywhere, but the writing process is not as simple as just sharing an opinion.
The Pros of Writing Persuasively
Persuasive essay writing is a useful writing skill. It allows a writer to clearly present their ideas in a structured and convincing way. Persuasive writing can be powerful, influencing people to believe in a cause and putting out a call to action, like donating to a certain charity or voting for a particular political candidate.
Persuasive writing helps improve a writer’s ability overall, teaching them how to use facts and research in an expressive yet succinct way. A writer learns to communicate their main points efficiently and present a clear argument.
8 Tips for Better Persuasive Writing
In order to be a more influential writer, there are a few persuasive writing techniques a writer may utilize:
- Pick a topic you’re passionate about. You’ll do your best persuading when it’s something you truly believe in. If you have the option to pick a topic, choose one that appeals to your own sensibilities. There will be research to do regardless, but already having a strong opinion about your subject will make its defense a bit easier.
- Know your audience. If you want to convince readers to believe and agree with you, know who you’re talking to first. For example, if you’re writing a persuasive letter about why standardized testing should be removed from school systems, your audience will likely be parents: Keep that in mind when writing to your targeted demographic.
- Hook the reader’s attention. A persuasive writer should present their opinion with a declarative statement that clearly expresses their point of view. Starting with a fact, research findings, or any other evidence that explicitly states information supportive of your thesis will immediately clue the reader in to what the essay will be about, what your position is, and if they’re interested enough to read on to see if they’ll be on your side.
- Research both sides. In order to convince the reader to agree with you, you also have to know what you’re trying to get them to disagree with. Your audience may be completely stuck in their ways, so knowing both sides of your argument—and how to effectively counter the opposition—will assuage any followup questions a reader may have that can cast doubt on your position.
- Be empathetic. An effective persuasion technique is the use of empathy. A reader is more inclined to believe you if they feel like you can relate to and understand their experiences. Emotional appeal is important for persuasive writing, as it targets the audience’s sensitivities, while also providing a logical explanation for why their beliefs should change.
- Ask rhetorical questions. Presenting questions that the reader will be forced to answer for themselves later on is another good persuasive strategy, especially when the information provided to help make that decision is supportive of your point of view.
- Emphasize your point. The use of exaggeration in order to express urgency, exclusivity, or just to make a point is another useful persuasive technique. Hyperbolic statements aren’t meant to be taken literally, but are used instead to convey an impactful image. For example, if you’re attempting to persuade a reader not to go to a restaurant, you might say their bad service “nearly starved you to death.” Although likely untrue, it still creates a vivid picture. In marketing, another example is Disney’s slogan: “The happiest place on Earth.” It’s a subjective statement that makes use of hyperbole to immediately create a desirable feeling for its audience—children and their parents. Find out more about hyperbole in our guide here.
- Repeat yourself. Strategic repetition can be an effective way to gradually remind the reader of your message. Finding different ways to make the same point by use of rephrasing, true stories, metaphors, or other literary devices all serve to reinforce your point without bogging down the reader with repetitiveness.
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