Monday, March 18, 2013

Persuasive Writing


  Most of us have  received a letter at least  once in our lifetime from mother, dad, grandparent,  sister  brother, or friend trying to persuade us to act in a certain way, to choose a certain path, to reach toward  a higher goal.

     I recall such a letter   from a  cherished family friend , written to me  when  I was nineteen years old and  going through a difficult time. 
    Dear Kath,  I wanted to give you something really special, but I've looked in all the stores and could find nothing to really show you just what your friendship means to me, so I decided  to share a gift God once gave to me.
   One night when I was really down and filled with fear, I tried to pray, but fear had such a strong hold on me it stood like a wall between myself and God, so in my total despair I just kept saying, God ! God ! God ! Then I felt the stillness of His presence as He did for me what I didn't have the strength to do ,  and the feeling of His presence dissolved the wall between us. His answer  was so simple it made me feel almost silly, He said, 'If you will ask for protection I will teach you how to be careful , so ask and learn. God has blessed us supremely, not because we are smart, but because even in our ignorance we've still learned  to love with our heart, and although your life and mine are very different, our hearts have beat in tune and our minds have thought together.  Trust and believe, God is near.  Love, Denise

    I find Denise's letter a  good example of persuasive writing,  not only did her words  lift my spirit, and give  encouragement, but also helped persuade me to a   commitment to prayer , and trust in the Lord by sharing her own heartfelt personal experience. 

     While  letters are a good avenue for persuasive writing, there are also  hundreds of  self-help books, political essays, and how to books that  have been written. All to help persuade  how one thinks,  and their  way of doing things. 

     When choosing to write persuasive writing,  one should know the audience you're trying to reach, and focus on your readers' needs. In researching persuasive writing I found  these helpful tips outlined in  a contemporary textbook ( Glencoe Literature The Reader's Choice) :

1. What problem will you help readers avoid?
2. What lessons are you going to pass along?
3. What benefit will readers gain?
4. What are your qualifications?

 State your advice:

1. What exactly should readers do?

Convince readers that your advice is good:

1. What reason do you have for giving it?
2. What facts support your reason?
3. What personal experiences support it ?
    The same textbook states,  In any persuasive writing, a sound argument combines a worthwhile position with solid support. As you draft, keep the following questions  in mind : Has the advice you're giving actually worked for you ? Can you reasonably expect it to work for your readers ? Are there pitfalls or potential problems that readers should know about? Are special skills required ? 

    Next provide evidence to show that your advice will benefit others. Evidence usually includes facts, statistics, and expert opinions, but personal experience may provide the  strongest , most convincing sup-port. 

    The following elements can strengthen your persuasive style:

* Strong, active verbs
* Nouns and modifiers with connotations to create positive feelings for your argument, and make your  
   position clear

     Other examples of persuasive writing are newspaper editorials, reports, speeches, advertisements, and reviews.

     The two main types of arguments in writing to persuade are logical and emotional. Logical arguments  use facts and evidence to persuade while emotional arguments use the feelings of the author and reader to persuade.  Three  great persuasive speech topics are found in Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address, Winston Churchill's Blood, Work and Sweat speech, and Martin Luther King's I've Got a Dream speech.  All three use anaphora, which is the repetition of a phrase . before the start of sentences. This can be a rhetorical tool employed throughout the entire speech. For instance, King say, "Now is the time" four times, and "I possess a dream" eight times. Churchill repeats victory several times and Lincoln uses the phrases, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground".  Using this style,the writer stirs up emotion and makes portions of the speech unforgettable.  A lofty goal for all writers - to make the words we write, the story we  tell, our persuasion unforgettable.

*** Kathleen Parker writes for the Washington Post and provides her persuasive writing skills in a  commentary published yesterday  Sunday, March 17, 2013 titled  Myopic Media Missed the Vatican's Message.   To read visit



Jennifer Rova said...

What an interesting topic! I never would have thought about the nuances of persuasive writing. You taught some valuable techniques. A great post!

Anonymous said...

So interesting! I so love what you post. You always give me something to think about. And thank you so much for that!


Patty said...

A thought provoking piece and very interesting, Kath!

Husban Ahmed Chowdhury said...

Hi Kathy Cooney Dobbs,

Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing, it will definitely help me in being a better persuasive speech writing.