Notes  Writing to Persuade
Notes on Persuasion: defines to persuade as, "to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince...." In many senses all writing is persuasive, and when readers finish a piece, it proves the writing was, indeed, successfully persuasive, at least, in keeping the reader engaged. Most every decision we make, large or small, involves persuasive elements as we choose what to do. Growing up, we likely wove elaborate appeals to stay up to watch some special TV show, get the keys to the car, etc., much like we hear from kids now. But maybe the most powerful and subtle persuasion that we contact everyday is advertising. In many varieties of print, on radio, TV, and more and more on websites, we are invited, kidded and intimidated into buying what the seller is selling. Advertising, whether we admire it or not, has much to teach us about what moves us to act.

Advertising (and often politics, media, etc.) uses a "threat and rescue" model to present a situation and "solution" to it that usually benefits, primarily, the advertiser. Any print or TV commercial shows these features. Because there is an element of manipulation in any writing, the appeals writers use to persuade readers of a problem and solution should be based in the writer's genuine thought, values and perspective of the topic.

In these initial stages of developing this essay, the etymological (historical) profile of the concept, the loop/exploratory material and explanatory "narrative," will serve to inform and enlarge the writer's grounding, and so, their potential voice of authority. Persuasion may occur most productively when the writer conveys the confidence/authority that stems from an honest, personal understanding of the topic/situation.
Below is a model of how all that material can be shaped to "persuade" a reader to agree with--or at least to think about--what the thesis proposes.
Further READING to enlarge writer's perspectives:
  • Thesis statement/Claim revisited:
    • Must be a ONE SENTENCE declarative statement, NOT a question and without using "I" or pronouns 
    • (this, that, etc.) just presenting the essential elements.
    • Must contain the TOPIC, the writer's POSITION and for the persuasion essay, the primary REASON(s).
    • Should appear somewhere near the "start" of the essay, at end of paragraph 1 or 2, perhaps after introductory "story element" to show the situation.   
  • Persuasive writing works well as an OpEd piece op-ed how tosample OpEd--843wds | Skip the Annual Physical | or an editorial [  e.g.> [published sample-JT ], but with no direct address of reader.


 He [anyone] who wants to persuade should put their trust not in the right argument but in the right words. 
Joseph Conrad

The following models are included to shed light on some considerations that are part of the persuasive process.
 They are adapted from those of Dr. Rick Rudd, Communications Dept., University of Florida.

 The Process of Persuasion

  1. Stage 1- (in Essay Introduction) - create Awareness (maybe from loop parts 1 & 2 and 5) so audience is informed of the problem 
  2. Stage 2- (in Essay Body)- set-up Comprehension (from basic concept definition and etymology and loop part 5) so audience develops understanding
  3. Stage 3- (in Essay Body) invite/allow for Acceptance (from various situational examples via appeals) so audience agrees and recognizes reasoning
  4. Stage 4 - (in Essay Body) acknowledge, explain and refute primary Opposing View 
  5. Stage 5 (in Essay Conclusion) establish Integration (restate thesis, summarize appeal reasoning and evidence, suggest remedy/solution) so audience modifies existing beliefs
  • Use vivid examples, colorful language
  • Stir deep feelings tied to powerful reasoning


  • The further your proposition is from the listeners’ beliefs. the less likely you are to convince them
  • The more difficult the goal, the less likely your success
  • The more ego-involved the audience the less likely you are to achieve your goal.  (Rudd, 2000)

Further Suggestions/guidance-- adapted from -- Jesse Seldess

  1. Identify your main idea or point of view. Your purpose will be to persuade your audience to accept this idea or point of view.
  2. Identify your audience. To write an effective persuasive essay, try to understand your audience. For example, are your readers undecided about your issue? Or are your readers hostile to your point of view?
  3. Considering your audience, identify the strongest supporting points for your persuasion.
  4. Identify the most significant opposing view. Explaining and then refuting the opposing view strengthens the credibility and scope of your essay.

More Ideas for Organizing the Persuasive Essay:


  • The introduction should get reader's attention and provide background information on the topic or controversy.
  • The paragraph should end with a clear statement of the main idea or point of view.

Body paragraphs

  • The body paragraphs should present the points in support of the main idea.
  • Each body paragraph should focus on one point.
  • Be sure to provide evidence or examples for each point.

Opposing view

  • After presenting your supporting points, develop one paragraph to accurately explain and then refute the most significant opposing view.


  • Creatively restate your main idea and supporting points.
  • Try to leave your audience even more connected to your topic and persuaded by your main idea or perspective.

  Persuasive Essay Self Assessment Rubric -- Harvard U.

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