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Persuasive writing: a clear-cut guide

Updated on October 25, 2013

Examples of Persuasive Writing

In this day and age, in the society we live in, we come face-to-face with persuasive techniques so often we may not even notice them. Here is a list of common examples:

  • Billboards - trying to advertise you something (often a car)
  • Posters - it could be for a newly opening club or for a meal-deal at your favourite fast food restaurant
  • Ads on TV - you'll find a persuasive ad on just about anything, on any media too (not just TV)
  • Books/stories - creative writers use persuasive techniques to get you to like or hate or even relate to a certain character

It's in books, on billboards, posters, television ads and more; persuasive writing is everywhere we go. It seems that something is always trying to sell you something or convince you of something. A new car advert telling you it's the first and finest of its kind. A poster showing you why it is wrong to litter. Maybe a passage in a story with the sole purpose of making you feel for a certain character; these are all examples of persuasive writing. So without further ado lets begin this guide...

7 Thing to Remember

There are seven major persuasive writing techniques you need to remember in order to produce an engaging piece of work:

  • Emotive Language - Possibly the most important persuasive writing technique. Strong writing contains emotion, it fuels people, it drives them. Without it your piece can seem lifeless and boring. The best way to achieve a good sense of emotive language is to write about something you genuinely feel emotional about. Of course you won't always have the luxury to be writing about something you feel passionate about, for times like that it might be best to get an opinion from someone who does.
  • Data - Data and facts are the two things you need when persuading somebody to buy something or do something. In many situations (mostly in advertising) emotive language won't be enough, you'll need to back up your accusations with hard evidence. If you are struggling to get facts you could try including a quote from somebody (famous or not).
  • Lists - I opened this hub with a list of places where persuasive writing can be found. I did this to show to you the importance and abundance of persuasive writing in the world. Lists help explain just how big, powerful or important something is.
  • Imagery - Closely linked to emotive language, imagery allows the reader to visualise something. If you have the opportunity to, include a picture (or video) illustrating your point. If not use metaphors and descriptions in your writing to paint a picture with words.
  • Questions - Questions engage the reader by getting them involved. By simply asking a question you get your readers to instantly think of an answer. When used properly, questions can be one of the most powerful, and simple to use, persuasive techniques. Ask them a question which is relevant to what you are writing about (e.g. wouldn't you rather drive a more efficient car?). The example I just used was a rhetorical question. These are sometimes even more powerful than a normal question. One rule about using questions is to not use too many of them. You'll have to use your best judgement to know how many is too many though.
  • Alliteration - This is quite odd but it would seem people are more likely to believe something that has alliteration or that rhymes, so it goes without saying that you should use them where you can if you want to be persuasive.
  • Short and Long Sentences - Any piece of writing should contain short and long sentences; this does not just apply to persuasive writing. Short sentences add tension in creative writing but in persuasive writing they add simplicity. Simple sentences quickly get to the point (which is the most important thing in persuasive writing). Long, and more complex, sentences usually hold facts and data. Imagery often uses complex sentences too.

Use a Thesaurus

Perhaps more important and powerful than a dictionary, a thesaurus helps you communicate what you want by using the right words. There is usually more than one way to say something but only a handful of those ways are right for you as a persuasive writer or advertiser. A thesaurus can be used to find one of those ways.

Sometimes you will need to dumb it down for your audience, you don't always want to use huge words but at the same time you don't want to keep using the same words over and over again. A thesaurus helps with this too.

Be Different

Being different is interesting, it's eyecatching. It gets people excited. Saying or doing something different is a surefire way to get the attention your piece of persuasive writing piece so dearly needs to have impact. The video next to this is one of my favourite car adverts, though it has very little writing in it, it does illustrate the idea of how being different can draw attention.

Smaller Tips for Persuasive Writing

To finish this hub off, here are some other, less important, tips for persuasive writing:

  • Have Balance - If you are purely one-sided in your writing you will not come off as genuine or accurate. Sometimes when you are persuading somebody to do something you need to mention the alternatives (such as if you are trying to get someone to buy something). This does not mean that you should advertise both sides of something, just that you should not forget them.
  • Don't be Aggressive - A good piece of persuasive writing is calm and relaxed. It does not use aggressive language. This tip is more important if you are doing public speaking than if you are writing but I still think it is worth a mention.
  • Sum Things Up - Your audience must not forget what you are trying to say. At the end of your persuasive writing, sum up all your points.

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      mils08 22 months ago

      Thank you for this very informative and helpful article. It would help me organize my thoughts towards developing an effective and convincing style in persuasive writing I'm inclined to pursue.

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