In every sphere of life, from sales to customer service, advertising to social media, there is one thing that unites all of these; that is, persuasive writing. From the opening sentences of an email to a potential customer to the copy on a website, we are captivated by the charms of a well-chosen word or phrase. Those who can manipulate the written word have a distinct advantage in society. This is the reason why we should all know how to write persuasively.
Persuasive writing is all around us. From pamphlets and letters to emails and websites, we experience it every day. However, since we rarely stop and think about what motivates someone to write in the first place, it can be tricky to determine the specific skills and knowledge required to create successful written persuasions. That is why it is essential to break down the various forms of persuasive writing and identify the key concepts and phrases that make each style unique. Moreover, we need to understand the general principles behind each technique to grasp their effectiveness. With this in mind, let us take a closer look at different types of persuasive writing and the advantages associated with each.
Narrative, or story telling, is probably the most popular form of persuasive writing. It is the easiest to understand and most fun to read. A good story possesses the ability to tug at our heartstrings, making us more receptive to its content. Moreover, when presented in the right format, a compelling story can also make us more eager to act. For example, when the narrative recounts the struggles of a student who overcame adversity to earn her degree, we will most likely have a sympathetic reaction, wishing to help the young woman achieve her dreams.
Many reputable universities and colleges now require coursework in persuasive writing. This form of literacy is crucial since we live in a world that is becoming more and more dominated by narratives; that is, stories that seek to persuade. Moreover, today’s news media is filled with compelling narratives that can leave an indelible impression on those who consume them. Whether we like it or not, the world we live in is becoming more story-based. This is why it is so important to develop our ability to construct convincing stories.
Action is the second most popular form of persuasive writing. Here, the author persuades us to take some kind of action rather than to believe or think about a particular situation. Action writing is usually tied to sales; that is, the appeal is to purchase a specific product or service. However, this form of persuasion can be used in a variety of ways to achieve specific goals. For instance, an author might encourage readers to sign a petition calling for government action, to join a boycott against certain products or companies, or to donate money to a specific cause.
The catch is that, in order to be effective, action writing must be tied to a specific goal. If the goal is vague or impossible to achieve, the action will be likewise. For example, if the action call is for us to sign a petition seeking to repeal the ban on gay marriage, but we feel that this is a futile effort since there is no way the petition will ever be heard, the call to action will seem hollow. Moreover, if the petitioners name is not familiar to us, nor is the issue of gay marriage even arguably one that concerns us, we are much less likely to respond.
Explanation is the third most popular form of persuasive writing. With it, the author attempts to convince us that a particular way of thinking or acting is correct. Moreover, the author tries to provide the reader with the knowledge and reasoning necessary to arrive at the same conclusion. In an explanation, the goal is to educate rather than to persuade. For example, an author might wish to explain to his readers why he believes that veganism is the way forward in terms of animal welfare or why he thinks that organic farming is a better choice for the environment than conventional methods.
The key concept to keep in mind when writing an explanation is that we are not used to being told what to think or believe. This is especially difficult if the advice contradicts what we previously thought to be correct. To put it another way, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Unless the information presented is of paramount importance and the reasoning sound, an explanation rarely works. Moreover, if the advice contradicts common sense or what we have previously been led to believe, those who read it may simply ignore it or, at the very least, question its veracity.
Evaluation is the fourth most popular form of persuasive writing. With it, the author attempts to persuade us that a specific course of action is good or bad. For example, an evaluation might ask us to consider the pros and cons of organic farming compared to conventional methods. In this way, the author is attempting to apply logic to reach his goal; that is, to convince us that organic farming is better than conventional since, in theory, it uses less harmful methods.
However, just because an action is logical does not mean that it will automatically make us feel good. We all want to live in a world filled with harmony and balance, but that is not always the case. There will always be competing interests and sometimes we will have to choose between two evils. In those situations, it helps to have the tools to analyze the situation and make the right decision.
What makes an evaluation unique is that the author clearly lays out both sides of the argument. If we are faced with a choice between two competing courses of action and neither of them seems right, it can be hard to know which one to take. By providing the reader with the information needed to reach a conclusion, the author ensures that the choice is both logical and clear.
Dedication is the least popular form of persuasive writing. With it, the author simply lists the various sources of his information. Sometimes, an author will include a link to a website or a newspaper article, crediting the source for the information. However, in many instances, the author will provide no sources at all, instead opting to assert that he has “learned these things the hard way.”
Most likely, the author dedicating lacks confidence in his ability to convince us of his point of view. That is why it is considered a last resort; that is, when other methods of persuasion have failed. In theory, dedication is easier to write than an argument or an explanation, since it is simply a list of facts. However, that does not make it any less ineffective. If the information presented is clearly presented and logically put together, the reader should not have any trouble understanding what the author is attempting to communicate.
Finally, we have the highly technical form of persuasive writing. With it, the author focuses on the methodologies and processes used to arrive at an informed decision or to create a new product. Since this type of writing is usually associated with an academic setting, it can be highly conceptual and filled with complex terms and scientific language. Moreover, since this is written for an academic audience, there is a high likelihood that the author will use a lot of scientific jargon, which can make understanding and maintaining the text a challenge.
What makes this type of writing so impressive is that the author has taken the time to understand and explain the reasoning and methods behind the message. Just because an author has gone the extra mile to become informed about a topic does not mean that we should be inclined to agree with his point of view. With technical writing, the aim is always to educate and convince the reader, rather than to persuade him.
When writing any type of persuasive text, whether in narrative form or in the other five varieties already discussed, it is important to keep in mind the purpose of the text. Moreover, when selecting words and phrases, it is crucial to keep in mind not only what the text is trying to convey but also why it is attempting to do so. Moreover, when writing an academic piece, it is essential to keep in mind that the goal is to inform, not to amuse. While this might seem like a small point, it can mean the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful argument. Above all else, the ability to write persuasively comes from practice. In time, with enough effort, anyone can become an expert wordsmith. All it takes is the desire to succeed and the dedication to practice.