Write Persuasive Prose Like the Pros
When you write to prove a point, you’re writing to persuade – to change the reader’s opinion. It’s not often easy to persuade someone to change his mind or take a stand. Doing so requires a thorough understanding of the subject at hand as well as thoughtful planning and strong evidentiary support. For instance, don’t try to write a persuasive story about the importance of social media in health care if you don’t have a deep knowledge about the topics and associated challenges involved.
More than any other type of writing, persuasive writing requires that you choose a topic that deeply interests you. Choose a current and controversial issue within the topic about which you have strong beliefs.
Boring Topic? No Excuse Not to Write Like a Boss
So, what do you do if you work as a freelance journalist or writer and an editor asks you to write a persuasive story about a topic you know a lot about, but that piques your professional interest about as much a rotten piece of sushi interests your taste buds? “A boring topic is no excuse for tepid prose,” says rock star journalist and author, James S. Robbins. In other words, suck it up and write. Write well. Write like a professional – like a boss – no matter the topic.
5 Steps to Writing a Great Persuasive Article
- Reflect on your stance – Reflecting on your beliefs about the topic represents – perhaps — the most important step in writing persuasively. If you don’t believe in the stand you take on the issue, you can’t persuade others to change their stance either. Collect your thoughts on how you feel about the topic through free writing, listing reasons for your personal beliefs about the issue, and where you think the other side goes wrong.
- Investigate both sides of the issue – Talk to a variety of people about the issue. Ask them why they feel the way they do and what personal experiences may have contributed to their beliefs. Ask them what they see as a possible remedy to either solve or lessen the negative aspects of the issue. Pay close attention to their responses, particularly to those who do not share your beliefs or stance on the topic. This will give you hint as to the reaction from readers who disagree with you as well. Try out your ideas on them, including your reasons and experiences that led to your forming your opinion and stance. You need to know what pushback you’ll receive if you hope to write persuasively.
- Read up on the issue – Read as much as possible about the topic and the issue surrounding the topic. This will help you to fully understand the history and circumstances leading up to the current issue associated with the topic. Collect statistics, facts, figures, experiential evidence, empirical evidence, and quotes on both sides of the issue. Make sure to read current information, so you’ll stay not only informed, but up to date as well.
- Think logically – You must think logically to write persuasively. Don’t interject drama and emotion into your arguments. Write using a reasonable, calm tone throughout the story. Remember to use tact and have a diplomatic attitude, while still clearly pointing out the weaknesses in the other side. Take care to give credit where credit is due; admit that, like most controversial issues, the solution is never black and white. Keeping this in mind, rely heavily on logic to convince your reader that your view offers the best, most logical solution.
- Organize well – Write out a clear statement about the purpose behind your perspective on the issue. This often referred to as the proposition statement. State your proposition positively (see Secrets of Writing an Editorial). Speak to the needs of your reading audience. Convey through your organized writing what’s in it for them. Show them that they’ll gain something by coming over to your side of the fence.
- Use strong images through word imagery, or with photos, to drive your main points home. Don’t overuse statistics (boring), but when you must use them, round them off.
- As with all your writing endeavors, carefully choose your words, remembering that words bring both feeling (connotation) and meaning (denotation) to your prose.
- End the story with your strongest reason for your perspective – the bottom line, so to speak.
Writing an effective persuasive story or essay takes practice. “Always keep it brief and breezy; make it like a drink of water. Get people involved, then give them no excuse to stop reading,” Robbins advises. Keep in mind, some people aren’t going to see it your way, no matter how logical and sensible your argument. Keep writing anyway. They’ll keep reading.
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