When you grasp persuasive writing techniques and processes, you can help draw people to your opinion or encourage them to think differently about a topic you are passionate about.
Rhetoric is an ancient art, and it’s one that many people in modern society lack. During Classical Greek history, rhetoricians used this form to persuade listeners through powerful speeches.
While speeches still hold a role in contemporary society, today, rhetoric often comes through the written word, not the spoken word. Persuasive writing uses writing skills to get the reader to the point of agreeing with you.
By using the right writing techniques, you can guide the reader to your desired conclusion. Here’s what persuasive writing is, where it is found, and how you can use it to be a stronger writer.
What Is Persuasive Writing?
Persuasive writing is writing that helps the reader come to the writer’s opinion on a topic. It is a type of argumentative essay that uses logical arguments to pull in the reader and, through the writing process, present arguments that will support a stance on an issue.
While the goal may not always be reached, the process involves a logical presentation of those arguments until the reader can come to a conclusion.
Choosing a Thesis Statement
At the heart of persuasive writing is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is the statement of the writer’s position on the argument.
A thesis statement will narrow a topic into a specific area of focus, then establishes the direction for the piece of writing. The thesis statement will also state the author’s opinion on the argument.
At its heart, a thesis statement is a statement of opinion, not fact. It provides the basis for argumentative and persuasive wring. So, a fact would state:
- Electric cars use less fuel than gas-powered cars.
This is true and leaves nothing for persuasion. You could write an informative piece of non-fiction writing with this statement, but you could not write persuasively.
A thesis statement would use that fact to create an opinion, such as:
- State governments should offer more tax incentives to drivers for purchasing electric cars to cut down on fuel use.
This statement can be the basis for an entire piece of persuasive writing.
To Persuade Your Audience, You Must Know Them
Before you can write a persuasive essay, you must understand your audience. Research your audience to appreciate their preconceived ideas and positions on the topic. This will help you craft arguments that will pull them closer to your opinion.
Once you have studied your audience, delve into the research. You need convincing evidence and facts to persuade your audience. Use many sources, backed by facts and statistics if appropriate.
Research both sides of the argument so you can argue appropriately against the opposition’s most convincing points.
Check out our explainer on prose in literature.
Structuring the Persuasive Essay
Once you have done some preliminary research, it’s time to create an outline. This style of writing follows the same basic template, no matter what your points may be. A persuasive essay has four essential parts, which include:
The introduction paragraph needs to hook the reader. They need a reason to continue reading your essay. It will introduce the writer’s opinion and outline the points, but not delve too deeply into the details of the piece.
Each paragraph in the main body of a persuasive essay will cover one point. After stating the point, provide details to support it. This is where facts are more important than the writer’s opinion and personal experience, whenever possible.
Research findings are compelling in many types of persuasive writing. The essay can have as many body paragraphs as necessary to persuade the reader.
Opposing View Paragraph
A persuasive essay can’t ignore the opposition’s view. In your research, you should identify some of the key points that your opposition may bring. Successful persuasive writers will state the opposing viewpoint and then use more facts to refute the opposition’s main points.
The conclusion is a powerful part of a piece of writing. It gives the chance to restate the persuasive piece’s main points and draw it all together. Often, a writer will restate the thesis with different wording.
Writing the Piece
The initial research and outlining process are both parts of the pre-writing process. Once that is done, the writer is ready to write a first draft of the piece. Even a persuasive letter requires careful writing and editing to do its job well.
As you write, use these essential elements of rhetorical arguments:
- Ethos – Ethical reasoning
- Logos – Logical reasoning
- Pathos – Passionate reasoning
When used well and in concert with one another, ethos, logos, and pathos create strong arguments that are hard to refute.
For ethical reasoning, make sure your points are factual and are not misleading in any way. When it comes to logical reasoning, make your points centered on the facts, and take the reader through a logical progression of arguments.
Passionate reasoning is usually the easiest when writers choose good topics. Strategic repetition and an emphasis on your points help with pathos, as will your passion for the subject.
Balancing these three will make your writing quite persuasive and powerful. When you can find that balance, the reader will naturally walk through the logic of your thinking.
You may not persuade them, but you will present a persuasive argument that will help them think about your position.
Editing Your Persuasive Essay
Once you have your persuasive essay drafted, you’re ready to edit it. First, edit the essay for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, then look at it again.
What are your arguments? What counterarguments do you cover? Have you thoroughly backed your main points with facts and research? Have you explained why the opposing viewpoint is wrong? Have you guided the reader toward a particular action?
Use the editing stage to make your writing stronger. Use effective persuasive techniques to inspire your audience to change their opinion or take action on the topic you are discussing.
Add stronger words and more personal experience or research findings to reinforce what you are saying. Ensure your word choice is strong, so you do not leave questions in the reader’s mind.
The art of writing a persuasive piece is worth embracing. By learning this form of writing, you can use your skills as a writer to persuade others to reach a particular conclusion.
Whether you are writing a letter, essay, or blog post, the process is similar.