At times, you will want (or need) to write a persuasive paragraph or essay. Many of the techniques and tips in previous blogs and videos apply to persuasive writing as well; however, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind for this specific task.
If you have the option to choose a topic rather than being given one, select a topic that is controversial in some way. After all, if everyone already agrees, there is nobody to persuade!
No need to fear, however, because there are lots of controversial topics available. Scan the editorial pages of newspapers. Watch the news, or peruse social media, and there will be more topics than you can handle.
It is often a good idea to choose a topic that affects you or people close to you because you will be more engaged.
If you are writing an essay, introduce the topic broadly and narrow your thoughts to the thesis statement at the end of your introductory paragraph.
Note: The introductory paragraph does not have to be written first. A draft will do to get started. Do, however, formulate a “working” thesis. The thesis statement should be concise and state the topic and your position clearly in one sentence. This might take a little effort, but keep narrowing down your thoughts to get to the core.
If you are writing a shorter article, you will need to decide where to place what is effectively your thesis statement. In a paragraph, the topic sentence acts as the thesis statement and often comes at the beginning. If you are writing a few paragraphs, I would treat this like a mini-essay and follow the basic essay format.
Although you are writing a persuasive article, don’t rely solely on emotional appeals. The stronger appeals will be to facts, careful thinking, and logical development. These facts can be used to strengthen emotional appeals used sparingly. When appealing to emotion, be responsible.
Looking for common ground is a good idea. Keep your audience in mind and look for details that you can agree upon – then work toward those that are more controversial. In this way, you can build bridges that solidify your points with your examples, details, and facts.
Be sure to distinguish facts from opinions. Opinions are useful, but they should be supported by facts.
Use reliable sources. Primary sources are best. These are original documents or statements. It is a good idea to check sources to ensure that the authors are not biased in some way. Ask yourself these kinds of questions: Who funded a research project? Could the authors’ results be skewed by this funding? You can build credibility by citing reliable sources. This gives your writing validity.
Anticipate counterarguments. You will be able to strengthen your case by acknowledging contrary opinions or questions and answering them persuasively.
Organize your points in a logical manner. As with any written work, well-organized thoughts are easier to comprehend and have a stronger impact than thoughts that wander erratically.
It is a good idea to build your persuasive points toward your most powerful proof. Readers (or listeners) tend to remember the beginning and end points more than the middle bits. Ending strong is effective.
Also, you want to end in a way that prompts readers to change in some way or to take a particular course of action. Remember that your intent is to persuade.
Why not give it a try?
Think of something you strongly believe in and write a persuasive paragraph or two using some of the tips above.
Let me know how you make out.
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