Persuasive writing, also referred to as a creative writing or an argument, is a piece of writing in which the writer uses words to convince the reader of his/her view regarding an issue. Persuasive writing sometimes involves convincing the reader to perform an action, or it may simply consist of an argument(s) convincing the reader of the writer s point of view. Persuasive writing is one of the most used writing types in the world. Persuasive writers employ many techniques to improve their argument and show support for their claim. Simply put, persuasive writing is "an essay that offers and supports an opinion".
Early rhetoric and persuasive writing
Rhetoricians dealt with persuasive writing and oration. Cicero most notably defined persuasive writing as the grand style in his work Talker.
Cicero stated, This eloquence has power to sway man s mind and move them in every possible way .
He also stated, however, that the most effective orator, or writer, uses a combination of the plain, middle, and this grand style to suit the context.
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. A successful pathetic appeal will put the audience in a suitable mood by addressing their knowledge of or feelings about the subject (Mendelson). This can be a very effective way to win over an audience!
Most persuasive writing techniques use an effective combination of all three appeals. It is the best way to convince people.
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
- Peroration, or a conclusion. It s often helpful to tie the conclusion back to the introduction in order to strengthen your claim.
- Rhetorical Questions, to get the reader thinking.