The purpose of persuasive writing is just as the name implies – to convince readers to agree with the author’s point of view. Unlike expository writing, persuasive writing contains the opinions and biases of the author. It is often used in letters of complaint, advertisements or commercials, affiliate marketing pitches, cover letters, newspaper opinion and editorial pieces, and online “think pieces”.
Three techniques used the most in persuasive writing are:
- Ethos: Ethoscan be defined as ethics or morality; by appealing to credibility, writers can make their claims more believable. This method in writing is used to convince your audience of your goodwill, or good moral character. In order to find you credible, the audience first needs to determine whether or not you have good intentions and/or a strong understanding of the topic. It is your job as the writer to present yourself as trustworthy.
e.g. As an English teacher of twenty years, my experience gives me keen insight into this issue.
- Logos: Writers can appeal to logic when writing to persuade using the appeal known aslogos. This method uses rationality and reason to convince the audience of your point of view. Think facts and evidence that are difficult to dispute.
e.g. If you know jumping off of a cliff would most likely kill you, you probably wouldn’t make the jump. What makes drunk driving any different?
- Pathos: Possibly the most important appeal for persuasive writers is the appeal to emotions, orpathos. “A successful pathetic appeal will put the audience in a suitable mood by addressing their knowledge of or feelings about the subject” (Mendelson). This is the opposite of logos because it is an argument without the use of reason. Many consider anger, fear, and empathy to be strong factors in influencing audiences, making this method of argumentation a worthy one. This can be a very effective way to win over an audience.
e.g. How many homeless people have you passed on the street this week? Can you imagine what it must feel like to sleep in on the cold ground in the middle of nowhere? To go to bed hungry and cold every night? We need to stop ignoring this issue and start helping, because these people are the victims–not the enemy.
The best persuasive writing use an effective combination of all three forms.