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Persuasive Writing. Techniques. Opinion/Anecdote. Opinion is key to persuasive writing. Ultimately, the essay is built around YOUR ideas and opinions but remember they should be rooted in fact. Keep an open mind during the research process before deciding the line of argument you will take.

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opinion anecdote
  • Opinion is key to persuasive writing. Ultimately, the essay is built around YOUR ideas and opinions but remember they should be rooted in fact. Keep an open mind during the research process before deciding the line of argument you will take.
  • Personal anecdote can be used to back up a point you are making. It is not ‘evidence’ of something widespread but it can add a bit of impact and colour to fairly bland statistics and help the reader understand what might have shaped your opinions on a certain subject.
  • Pick a tone and make sure you apply it throughout your piece.
  • Consistency is the key here, and you can use imagery, word choice and figurative language (similes, metaphors etc) to create a tone which is:

angry/outraged/dismayed/provocative/ ironic/humorous/hopeful/serious/mocking…

  • Repeat your sentiments over and over again. Remember you are trying to convince the reader to agree with your point of view.
  • Hammer home your point by repeating it in a variety of ways, both subtle and explicit (but not by using the same words over and over).
  • Use analogies – e.g. “In these times of rapidly evolving technology, not protecting your online identity is as foolish as parading your bank details on your t-shirt for the world to see.”
the power of reason
The Power of Reason
  • Give reasons why. People respond to reasonable lines of argument. It helps create a veneer of fact over opinion.
  • e.g. “This is, without doubt, the best phone of the market at the moment because…(insert your own geeky reason here)”.
  • Be consistent. Don’t flip flop between stances.
  • Stay on message even when you are considering opposing points of view.
  • Remember you are only highlighting them in order to disprove them and show how stupid people have to be to believe them.
  • E.g. “I once had a poo in a pub about two minutes' walk from Buckingham Palace. I was not subsequently arrested and charged with crapping directly onto the Queen's pillow. That's how "distance" works in Britain. It's also how distance works in America, of course, but some people are currently pretending it doesn't, for daft political ends.”

(Charlie Brooker, The Guardian)

  • Use similes, metaphors and hyperbole to endorse your point of view.
  • Creating powerful images really helps bring an argument to life and helps the reader gain a deeper understanding of your points.
  • E.g. “As an operation, Apple is the Beatles of the technological universe, with hordes of adoring, hyperventilating, hysterical disciples. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to find a shop without a waiting list the next time it updates the iPhone.”
  • It’s important to empathise with the reader, even if he/she does not agree with your point of view.
  • Remember, empathy means you can relate to the experiences of others, even those who disagree.
  • E.g. “I, too, once believed in the power of democracy, but the bastard coalition forged in the last election has convinced me that dictatorship is the way forward. I don’t blame people for clinging to the rotting corpse of traditional politics, it’s just that I happen to believe Katie Price would do a more effective job of running the country.”
address objections
Address Objections
  • Address all the serious objections people might have against your point of view.
  • Show the reader that you have considered all aspects of the argument and strengthen your own stance by knocking down the opposite views.
  • Remember that conceding a valid point from the opposing side does not make you wrong. You can still convince people that, despite this one point, you have many more which prove your line of argument is the only logical one.
go tribal and claim necessity
Go Tribal and Claim Necessity
  • Everybody wants to belong to something or be part of something. Claim necessity that people follow your opinion or risk being left out.
  • E.g. “The very ownership of an Apple product is likely to have severely positive effects on your status in the world. A single glimpse of the ubiquitous white headphones immediately moves you up one point on the attractive scale and at least two on the cool index.”
lies damned lies statistics
Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics
  • Manipulate information. Use the facts and figures which back up your point of view and which help you come across as a credible, trustworthy source.
  • Use Technical jargon/language.
  • Quote leading figures or respected commentators in the appropriate field if they share your view. Quote idiots who disagree to disparage the opposition.