If you know me, you know that to say I have progressive politics is an understatement. If I see a progressive make an argument I agree with, half of me says, “Right ON!” And the other half is saying, “Seriously? You expect that to persuade anybody? You’re preaching to the converted.”
Here’s what I mean: somebody has a vision for societal change. And it’s a good vision. And they think, “I should share this vision!” So they make the best arguments they can, from their point of view. It is well received — but only by people who already mostly agree with them.
That’s a problem I know how to fix. Want to know where I learned it? Listen to my background and see if you can guess. I got a degree in creative writing, then went on to become a technical writer, then taught technical and business writing, and then left the job market to pursue the job of Full-Time Mom, Part-Time Writer, Part-Time Activist.
Which of these jobs do you suppose taught me the most about persuasive writing?
If you guessed “being a mom,” that’s a fair guess. It’s hard work persuading my kids to eat their dinner. But no. I learned it when I taught business writing.
Corporations know how to persuade. They know how to market to people, and that is persuasion.
So over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing what I know. Check back every week and see what’s new. The topics I’ll cover are:
- Targeting your piece to your audience
- Using ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade
- Being credible and using specifics
- Overcoming your audience’s objections
- Asking for action
Tone and Style
- Having positive emphasis
- Using the appropriate level of formality
- Having a goodwill close
Layout and Illustration
- Drawing the reader in
- Looking good on the page
- A bad example
- Who will it reach?
- A good example