Notes  Writing to Persuade--Developing the Essay or OpEd

Notes on Persuasion: Dictionary.com defines to persuade as, "to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince...." In many senses all writing is persuasive, and when readers finish a piece, it proves the writing was, indeed, successfully persuasive, at least, in keeping the reader engaged. Most every decision we make, large or small, involves persuasive elements as we choose what to do. Growing up, we likely wove elaborate appeals to stay up to watch some special TV; now, it may persuasion for more game time, get the keys to the car, etc., But maybe the most powerful and subtle persuasion that we contact everyday is advertising. In many varieties of print, on radio, TV, and more and more on websites, we are invited, kidded and intimidated into buying what the seller is selling. Advertising, whether we admire it or not, has much to teach us about what moves us to act.

Advertising (and often politics, media, etc.) uses a "threat and rescue" model to present a situation and "solution" to it that usually benefits, primarily, the advertiser. Any print or TV commercial shows these features. Because there is an element of manipulation in any writing, the appeals writers use to persuade readers of a problem and solution should be based in the writer's genuine thought, values and perspective of the topic.

Even in ads or persuasive discussion the elements of a reasoned appeal/argument are present, clearly or implied: basically, statement>reason>evidence. Persuasion allows for more informal style, but the basics are there.

Further READING to enlarge writer's perspectives:
  • The Thesis Statement/Claim in this class:
    • Must be a ONE SENTENCE declarative statement, NOT a question and without using "I" or pronouns (this, that, etc.) just presenting directly the essential elements.
    • Must contain the TOPIC, the writer's POSITION and for the persuasion essay, the primary REASON(s).
    • Should appear UNDERLINED somewhere near the "start" of the essay, at end of paragraph 1 or 2, perhaps after introductory "story element" to show the situation.   
  • Persuasive writing for this assignment is to write an Op-Ed piece op-ed how tosample OpEd  
    • 850-1000 wds of persuasive writing that does include 3-5 sources of factual, verifiable data, but no formal academic documentation or bibliography.
    • Using an analogy to convey what you're trying communicate can be powerful.
    • Signal phrases and exact reference data should be worded IN SENTENCES not given in parenthesis or notes outside the writing. Support data should be easily verified by a reader.
    • Writing should be non-formal, almost conversational style, that reflects the energy the writer has for the topic.
    • The assumed reader would be someone with only general knowledge of the topic, and any "special" words or terms should by briefly explained or defined.
    • The title can be creative and should reflect the point directly or ironically.  

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