Persuasive articles, also known as argument essays, use logic in proving that one idea is more legitimate than the other. They convince readers to adopt a particular viewpoint or take a certain action. These articles are not blarney but they use sound reasoning and evidence by stating facts, citing examples, quoting experts and giving logical arguments. Persuasive writers employ techniques and writing styles that improve the quality of their claim. Therefore, a persuasive essay may be defined as an essay which “offers, promotes and supports an opinion”. Early rhetoricians were particularly concerned with persuasive writing and oratory. Cicero defined persuasive writing in his work “Oratory” as “This eloquence has power to sway man’s mind and move them in every possible way”. There are three “appeals” connected with persuasive writing which are discussed in the forthcoming paragraphs.
While writing persuasive articles, writers may make their opinions believable by appealing to credibility. According to Aristotle, this is called an appeal to “ethos”. The writer will appear further credible to the intended audience by writing with clarity and eliminating contradictions within the text. Syntax and mechanics of the write-up should be free of errors. In addition, absence of factual errors in the subject matter will help in building credibility.
The second appeal called logos serves a writer by appealing to logic so that the readers could be persuaded. Supporting statements for the writer’s claims manifest this appeal. An effective appeal to logos needs tangible evidence and this may be provided by a quote from acknowledged written material. By paying heed to this consideration, a writer will appeal to the rationality of the audience.
The third and the most powerful appeal is the appeal to emotions or “pathos”. Mendelson has rightly said that “a successful pathetic appeal will put the audience in a suitable mood by addressing their knowledge of or feelings about the subject”. Pathos is effective in conquering the audience and molding their views according to the writer’s choice. All three appeals, when aptly availed, can result in a convincing combination.
There is a traditional structure; the parts of which could be used to enhance argument in persuasive articles. Although, a compulsory use of these parts in precisely the same order is not advisable, yet they assist in building a clean and persuading structure. The parts are:
• Exordium – the introductory part
• Narration – this is the background statement of facts
• Partition – prediction of the topics to be covered
• Conformation – contemporary English language will call it the body of the text
• Refutation – discussion of available alternatives
• Peroration – this is the conclusion. When preoration is connected back to exordium, it may turn into a substantial persuasive force.
• Rhetorical Questions – these are to make the readers ponder.
These steps should be remembered to produce effective persuasive articles:
1. Decide your position. In which camp will you accommodate? Do you have solutions to offer?
2. Analyze the audience. What the majority of audience believes?
3. Research the topic. For the sake of ethos, you should be willing to go beyond your knowledge and gather information.
The basic steps have been discussed; there may be hundreds of more techniques. However, persuasive writing is more an art than a science. You will be successful only when your writing is artistic rather than merely stating the facts and figures.