Reasons To Write: Writing To Persuade

Christina Katz

By Christina Katz
Maybe you like writing to persuade. I know I do, and I find myself coming back to the skill over and over and over again as a professional communicator.
What exactly does writing to persuade mean? Persuasion is simply a way of convincing someone else of your point of view. You can use persuasion to plead your case, sway others to your way of thinking, and as a way of leveraging your influence.

But maybe you think writing to persuade should be relegated to the ranks of cheesy sales people trying to shill their wares and hope you should never have to stoop so low. But my fellow writers, we all write to persuade now and again, whether we like it or not. Right?

A proposal, pitch and query are examples of types of persuasive writing that all writers must employ. There’s simply no way around selling yourself, unless you aspire to only be read after your death. A couple of great books that can help you out in this lifetime are: The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt-Thomas and The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell.

Arguing skillfully is a potent tool and writers need to know how and when to use it. So the next time the only thing standing between you and persuading someone else is a blank page, here are some strategies:

Don’t rant. Raging on and on in an agitated fashion about your biases has never been a particularly effective call to action or an efficient way to change people’s minds. However, arguing the reverse argument with some passion might be an persuasive way to show just how absurd the opposing point of view is, which may illustrate the wisdom of your perspective.

Paint a picture of the positive benefits of your position. Or conversely, paint a picture of the negative impact of a differing point of view. Go with facts whenever possible rather than what might or could happen.

Explore a list of reasons as a strategy. Strive to build your argument from the ground up. Don’t start with the frosting on the cupcake if the eggs and oil are  essential for the whole case to hold together. You can also describe the opposite position and then proceed to build a case for how flawed that way of thinking is point by detailed point.

Why not try cajoling instead of issuing orders? Be encouraging. Be inspiring. Create a call to action and invoke a sense of what things could be like if everyone would only adhere to your vision. Let your readers know that feeling good will be the result of their allegiance to your cause.

Just ask! In the end, people will often do what you suggest or even agree with you, not for any of the reasons above, but simply because you were persistent, invested, and a wee bit insistent. Sometimes people will let you persuade them just to get you to shush up.

When writing to persuade, use the tools at your disposal-whatever it takes. Then make your case, take a stand, build your argument, ask for assistance, and get the heck out of there before you make a nuisance of yourself.

Writer Mama by Christina KatzOctober 2007 Family Fun Magazine is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.

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