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Persuasive writing is a form of writing in which the writer uses words to convince the reader that the writer's opinion is correct in regards to an issue. Persuasive writing sometimes involves persuading the reader to perform an action, or it may simply consist of an argument or several arguments to align the reader with the writer's point of view. Persuasive writing is one of the most commonly used writing types in the world. Persuasive writers employ many techniques to improve their argument and show support for their claim.
This type of writing is often used for advertising copy, which is written in an attempt to get consumers to purchase specific products. It is also a form of writing in which someone tries to get readers to agree with a position. A well-written persuasive piece is supported with a series of facts which help the author argue his or her point. Many authors also include counterpoint arguments in their pieces which they can debunk, showing readers that they have considered both sides of the argument at hand, and that any arguments which could be raised against the side of the written piece could be dismissed. In addition to facts, authors may include anecdotes and hypothetical situations to build a stronger case.
Ethos, logos, and pathos in persuasive writing
By appealing to credibility, writers can make their claims more believable. This is called an appeal to ethos, as defined by Aristotle. The writer builds on his or her ethos by writing with clarity (an important element of style) and eliminating contradictions within the text itself. The writer will be more credible to the target audience if there are no internal errors in syntax and mechanics as well as no factual errors in the subject matter.
Writers can appeal to logic when writing to persuade using the appeal known as logos. This appeal is manifested in the supporting statements for the writer's claim. In most cases, a successful appeal to logos requires tangible evidence, e.g., a quote from acknowledged written material. The writer will appeal to the rationality of the audience.
Possibly the most important appeal for persuasive writers is the appeal to emotions or pathos. According to Mendelson "a successful pathetic appeal will put the audience in a suitable mood by addressing their knowledge of or feelings about the subject".
Most persuasive writing techniques use an effective combination of all three appeals.
Commercial and non-commercial
Persuasive writing could be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes. The message of the writer could be about buying a product or service. That would be an example of a commercial purpose. A piece of writing can also convince the reader about non-commercial actions. An example of this would be a writing about minding your health and quit smoking. Marketing companies use persuasive writing a lot to convince their target group. Before they start writing their article they do a lot of research about the target group. They try to find a way to reach their target group and a way to convince their target group. The research can make their persuasive writing very effective.
Here are the traditional parts of persuasive writing that can be used to strengthen an argument. While these do not have to be followed exactly or in this order, they are helpful in forming the structure in persuasive writing.
- Exordium, or introduction.
- Narration, or background statement of the facts.
- Partition, or forecast of the topics to be presented.
- Conformation, or the confirmation of the piece. In contemporary English classes, this would be called the body of the text.
- Refutation, or discussion of alternatives.
- Rhetorical questions, to get the reader thinking.
- Peroration, or a conclusion. It's often helpful to tie the conclusion back to the introduction in order to strengthen a claim.