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Persuasive Writing Tips

This document may help undergraduate writers (especially freshman) discover their own unique approach to assignments by avoiding common mistakes and cliche analytical techniques. However, any writer should benefit from these reflections about persuasion and rhetoric.

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Persuasive Writing Tips

  1. 1. Some Important Do’s and Don’ts of Persuasive Writing Rhetorical Situation REMEMBER: Your paper NEED to clearly demonstrate Exigence/Significance/Audience. ● The words you choose, the amount of detail you provide, and how you assemble paragraphs and use evidence will serve to SHOW why your paper matters, why you are writing, and for whom Rhetorical Appeals Kairos: Is now the best time to make this argument? Why is this issue you are raising a pressing concern within the cultural context you are writing? ● Timeliness. ○ No one wants yesterday’s news today. If a recent study came out about cosmetic surgery procedures, you can draw oncurrent events as a way of articulating your exigence. Ethos: Why should my audience believe me? ● Credibility/Character. ○ Making a point to do research shows that you are trying to increase your credibility as a writer. Although research may seem tedious and time consuming, it will show your reader that you are not thinking in a vacuum and you are trying to connect yourself and them to communit(ies) Pathos: Why should my audience care? ● MAKE RELATABLE, MEMORABLE, and PLEASING TO READ. ○ Personal Experience, Narrative Voice, Anecdotes, Testimony, Vivid details: facts, statistics, or drawing on
  2. 2. external sources can create an emotional reaction from the reader, while demonstrating your credibility and appeals to logic at the same time! ○ Remember, certain words and phrases will make the reader concerned, angry, sympathetic, calm, inspired, proud, and so on. Read Aristotle's Book II of the Rhetoric for more information. Logos: Will my audience believe my argument makes sense? What assumptions do I make that need to be explained to them? ● A strong claim, sound reasons, and use of compelling evidence to support both reasons and your claim will appeal to the reader’s logic. ○ Facts, statistics, surveys, personal testimony, and CLAIM TYPES evoke a particular response in readers that gets them thinking about whether or not your argument is plausible/valid/likely to be true Avoid logical fallacies ● Don’t make sweeping generalities or non-sequiter claims. ○ Don’t say “our culture” when you mean American mainstream culture. Don’t say “every girl” is pressured to tan when you mean that Caucasian/fair-skinned girls are pressured to tan. Don’t say all women want a guy to sweep them off their feet, when in fact, you mean some heterosexual or bisexual women. Work on Your Style: Do’s and Don’ts ● Do: use qualifiers and transitions (see qualifiers and transitions sheet) ● Do: be considerate and respectful. Coming across as polite isn’t being passive or weak, it’s rhetorically saavy. Attempting to persuade a reader does not conflict with being polite or mean that you need to be rude about it. ● Do: Use active verbs and concrete details to convey your expertise
  3. 3. instead of brow beating your audience with preachy general messages about “the truth” or “seeing the light” ● Do: Write your paper in a way that you would want to be written to (follow the golden rule) ● Do: Defy your reader’s expectations of the typical. Make the familiar unfamiliar and vice versa. Engaging a reader usually depends on the fact that you are doing something a bit different or getting them to see things in a more complex way. It also increases your ethos because it shows that you are familiar with typical ways in which arguments about your subject are being framed ● Don’t assume that your audience knows less about reality than you—you both bring knowledge to the table, activate theirs don’t push ideas down their throat by overly appealing to morality or ignorance ● Don’t assume that your audience comes from the exact same cultural background as you do.