James Braxton Peterson Shares Essential Writing Tips to Persuade Your Audience
Persuasive writing is a powerful tool that can compel readers to resonate with a particular viewpoint or perspective. Writers present an opinion, use logical arguments to support their views, and employ emotional appeals to create a call to action.
James Braxton Peterson, a writer, educational consultant, and scholar from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers some tips to help writers present their ideas in a rational and convincing manner.
Be Passionate About the Topic
The topic should be relevant to readers and inspire passion. Writers with zero interest in their topic will lose reader interest. This is especially true with persuasive writing. If the argument is clear, true, and authentic, one’s writing will achieve the desired effect.
Know Your Audience
Writers must know who their audience is, first and foremost. Every audience has its own nuanced concerns, notes James Braxton Peterson. One should keep the audience in mind when choosing a topic and forming one’s arguments. Pinpointing one’s audience helps the writer reach that audience and hold their attention.
Research is critical. Writers should research the topic from multiple points of view. Doing so will help the writer anticipate opposing arguments and collect solid evidence to support their argument.
Create a Logical Flow and Outline
Persuasive writing is primarily about making a clear point and addressing counter-arguments from the opposition. Experienced writers frame opposing opinions respectfully and organize their own arguments accordingly. This approach leaves little room for doubt, defensiveness, or unnecessary follow-up questions.
Good persuasive writing should have an organized logical flow, says James Braxton Peterson. Readers must be able to follow each argument easily.
One of the best ways to achieve this logical flow is to set up an outline before composing the first draft. One’s thesis statement should be at the top of the outline and will rest within the first paragraph on the draft. Writers use an outline to create a list of main points, subpoints, and supporting evidence. Each point should back up the thesis statement and address counterarguments.
Focus on Your Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is a single sentence that sums up the main argument. The thesis statement should be clear and relatively short. Readers shouldn’t have to guess what the writer’s agenda is. That’s why it’s important to let readers know from the beginning what they are reading, as well as the writer’s point of view.
The thesis statement is the main argument of the work and the writer is expected to refer back to it regularly throughout the piece. Each point and subpoint should flow from the thesis statement and not venture too far from the main argument.
Get the Reader’s Attention Right Away
Use a good hook. This will grab the reader’s attention right away. A “hook” can be an interesting fact, piece of supporting evidence, or a story that illustrates or foreshadows the main argument in the thesis statement, notes James Braxton Peterson.
Use as Many Supporting Arguments as Possible
Persuasive writers do their best to support the main argument in their thesis statement. Supporting arguments should employ sound research and logic.
It is not enough to simply state an opinion and expect readers to agree without questions. One should anticipate what, why, and how questions. Each point and subpoint should address those questions with clear, thoughtful research and data.
Write with integrity. Rhetoric should be ethical. According to James Braxton Peterson, writing ethically means that writers have an obligation to not mislead or manipulate their audience. Arguments must be forthright, based in fact, and devoid of fear tactics or misinformation.
Use an Empathetic Voice
If a reader feels more connected with the writer, they will be more likely to believe and agree with them. Writers that use empathy to relate to readers will help readers feel understood.
Repetition is Key
One should reinforce their main point tastefully. Readers should find variations of the thesis statement throughout the persuasive piece, says James Braxton Peterson. Some of the best ways to paraphrase a main point include stories, metaphors, similes, restatements, quotes, and analogies.