The persuasive essay is one way to demonstrate your ability to bring together your reading, writing and thinking skills. Besides, it’s useful in other aspects of your life! You can write a persuasive essay about almost any topic that has an element of debatability to it. Literature is one of those things that is subject to interpretation, and any interpretation of it is debatable.
Persuasive writing is both similar and different from the writing you have already been doing in this class. All essays have a clear beginning and ending, use a thesis and support that thesis throughout the essay. The first difference comes in with the thesis itself.
In a persuasive essay, the thesis is a debatable point about the topic.
The structure of your essay should allow supporting paragraphs to
Use evidence to support your thesis
If appropriate, address opposing point of view.
Of course, there should be a conclusion that brings the reader to closure. It may leave the audience with some ‘food for thought’ or ask the reader to take action.
DICTION AND TONE IN PERSUASIVE WRITING
When you write an analysis of fiction (for the novel you selected) you will be discussing the theme of the book and making an argument supporting the theme you select. Because you, the author, are attempting to persuade your audience to agree with you, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Tone: Tone is the tool that allow you to connect with or alienate your readers. You reveal a bit of your personality in your writing, and this makes it easier for your audience to connect with you and your ideas.
Respect for your Audience: Word choice and tone are critical to showing respect for your audience. Consider your word choice – you should neither use such simple language as to be insulting to your readers, nor should you use such obscure language that the reader loses your meaning altogether. Readers not only will not likely finish reading your work if you use a condescending tone, but you will also fail to sway them to agree with you.
Establish Your Credibility: Why should your audience listen to you? What is your experience with this topic? (In the case of literary analysis, make it
clear in your discussion that you read the book! If you only discuss one small part of the book in great detail, that makes a reader question whether you actually read the book about which you are writing.)
Use of Logic: Your thesis should be supported with evidence from the text, cited properly. Do not use fallacies. Be sure your chain of logic makes sense to the reader.
Emotional appeal: Persuasion is one area of writing where appealing to the reader’s emotions is considered an effective tool. You can do this not only with your supporting points, but also with word choice.
Check your syllabus. What assignment is coming up that you will apply persuasive writing to? When will this be due?
In section 5.3, you worked with a partner/group to analyze an argument. In the Course Resources section of this book you will find an example of a student essay analyzing a novel, and a template you can use for planning your own persuasive essay.