Persuasive Writing: An evergreen art of Literature and Politics

From Antony’s Speech in “Julius Caesar” to Hitler’s “Mein Kemp” or the Letter from the Birmingham prison of Martin Luther King Jr., there has always been an era where the public was mobilised by someone or the other, particularly, an author or an orator’s point of view. That art has been running in print and literature for centuries or maybe since the civilisations we know about today. The art is none other than the art of Persuasive writing. Unlike the actual factual info, it revolves mainly around establishing the author’s point of view. Thoughts and contents are usually associated with logical arguments made by the author. Wise or otherwise, those arguments are backed with personal and emotional experience to deliver a thought content. It undoubtedly involves focussing on building an intimate relationship between the one who expresses and the one who becomes the endpoint reader or audience. More or less, it’s a tactic of conversation that has been well exploited by most influential leaders, Protagonists and Advertising Majors.

Is that it? Then Why is it important?

The art of persuasive writing has always been an asset of demand in business and politics. Though not limited to the arena of profits and gains of a select few. It often challenged many regional and religious beliefs, influencing the outcome of revolutions. Without it, a cultural movement in rallies to Public health and information media shall be crippled. Thinking or in the process of writing a book or simply a research paper needing lecture backup, its absence may be detrimental to audience acceptance. So next time you are writing your thesis or making your school or college project, give the style of persuasive writing a try.

Ways to Pursue!

One should give a try to Aristotle’s RHETORIC to get a gross idea of how civilisations got developed in the path of, as his says, “Ethos”, “Logos” and “Pathos”. Kind of the foundation of persuasive writing.

Ethos

Greek for “character” or “spirit”, it revolves around the idea of how the speaker or author presents themselves to the audience. The use of beneficial skills, virtue and goodwill expression in the best light is crucially important, especially in the early phase of any writing. The reader should feel the acceptance from their heart, that they are ready to listen to what the author or the speaker is about to say or elaborate.

Logos

Greek for “suffering” or “experience” refers to logical arguments and evidential data the author provides to his views. Creativity always shall take a back seat if there is no backup of the perspective with statistics, testimonials, shreds of evidence or facts. And one should never forget that structuring them is equally vital to conclude. It’s often the conclusion a reader proceeds to if they are not hooked up enough with what the author has to say. Should you notice, many people have the habit of checking the ending of the book to consider whether they will buy it or not or if they should complete it. It’s all part of typical human nature.

Pathos

Greek for “suffering” or “experience” goes with the author’s appeal to the emotion of their audience. It is well-accepted that most humans’ decisions are from their feelings rather than for a reason. As the common phrase goes’ “follow your heart”, many people shift it to the side of emotions being heavier on the scale than the reasoning. Sometimes, it’s too much to think and flow with the heart. For the speaker, it’s more of “pulling the heartstrings”. It usually involves describing a painful event to win a reader’s sympathy or urge them to consider someone else’s feelings to get support finally. Does the “Capitol Hill” event ring a bell?

Appealing to someone is often futile without a thorough understanding of the audience they need to address. Different people react differently to the same speech or writing. Figures of speech are taken differently in different situations and places. The same should be adequately taken into account while addressing. A simple thought with innocence may end up with a public boycott or internet troll, so choose wisely your modes of Persuasion and its medium.

Strategies in the Art of Persuasion

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1. Wise and Careful choice of words

The words and phrases used makes up for the foundation in building a personal relationship with the reader. Using the best possible terms to express is strategic in convincing the audience that your opinion is correct or may have importance.

Since this writing style often uses strong language, things need to be stated to the point without “hedging”. Emotive language – words and phrases used to describe feelings are essential to form and encourage a sentimental bond with the reader.

Wordplay like puns, rhymes, and jokes or references to a commonly used event or character citations works as a good memory tool to help the audience remember your central argument and what they need for the so-called “take-home” message.

2. Questioning relevantly

Questions have inbuilt functionality to make the audience participate in your one-sided communication in their minds. If not, at least it makes them ponder on the thought and engage their critical thinking for a bit.

Firstly, these questions can plant ideas and lead the reader to the author’s answers. Secondly, after a properly structured argument, relevant questioning shall make them conclude with the author’s intended conclusions.

3. Early Point of View Statement

Clear and transparent communication of the central idea or thesis statement in the introduction or early phases of your writing is crucial for the audience to avoid confusion. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to convince the reader if they have no grip or idea of what is being told.

4. Draw a persuasion Map

It more or less refers to the way the author presents their thoughts. It is well-advised to those who either lose track of what they speak or write or those who have trouble staying organised. Many people prefer to order out with main points followed by pieces of evidence and arguments ending with examples to back them up. Thus, knowing and deciding the flow beforehand keeps everything in order.

It is often the consistency that profoundly impacts the audience’s minds. Sometimes the thoughts and visions do collide, but the effort should be more in helping the reader think the way you want and let them conclude your statement by taking their own time.

5. Speak directly to the reader

As mentioned above, the relationship between the author and the reader is crucial in persuasive writing. A common way to address the reader is in the first person, like “you”. The more the writing is conversational in the reader’s mind, the lower the reader’s defences, the more the acceptance with an open mind. To stay on the good side of the reader, make your point lesser critical than letting the reader think for themselves with the direct and indirect references you made, such as a quote, dialogue, or an excerpt of something well-read and respected.

6. Repeating the argument

Repetition is a classic technique to put some idea in a human mind. Believe the teachers; they can’t stop appreciating repetition as a memory tool. The more someone listens, the more they remember, and the more their thoughts and decisions are influenced.

Repeating the same idea or thought repeatedly normalises them. When combined with substantial evidence and rationality, repetitions have a history of making radical ideas and propagandas seem more grounded.

Some Examples of Persuasive writing

As mentioned earlier, persuasive thoughts have influenced many major historical events, especially when a significant shift in public beliefs. Here are some of the famous writings and speeches are taken from history –

A. Mahatma Gandhi at Banaras Hindu University (4th Feb. 1916)

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If we are to receive self-government, we shall have to take it… freedom-loving as it (British Empire) is, it will not be a party to give freedom to a people who will not take it themselves.

B. Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)

Not all colonial Americans thought a revolution against England was a good idea and an ethical one.

C. Antony’s Speech in “Julius Caesar” written by William Shakespeare

…But Brutus says he was ambitious:
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this Caesar seem ambitious?
When hath the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
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All of these writing have deeply impacted nations worldwide. It made many people think for generations to come. An author may or may not have this much potential, a speaker may grab everyone or not, but systemic, well organised persuasive writing may do wonders. Though famous people have used this style, the same writing style applies to copywriting, advertising, journalistic op-ed pieces, public speeches, public service announcements, and critical reviews. So next time you are planning to write something, and the objective does include grabbing some “mind-balls”, do give the style of persuasive writing a try.

Got more ideas and suggestions? Grand Welcome!!!

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