Persuasive writing

Persuasive writing has been around for centuries, but how it works was first explained by Aristotle, who asserted that good persuasive writing has at least one of the following three characteristics: ethos, which refers to the credibility of the message and/or the source; logos, which is the logic of the message; and pathos, the emotion generated by the message. Messages that can combine two of those characteristics are more persuasive, and ones that contain some levels of all three can be even more powerful.


Your textbook looks at persuasive writing from a different perspective: WIIFM. What’s in it for me? Try to show your intended audience how they will benefit from the information and persuasive messaging you are providing.


Consider also the five steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, which has served students in Oral Communication classes for almost a century:

1.      Attention – grab your audience’s attention.

2.      Need – describe a problem that needs a solution.

3.      Satisfaction – offer a solution that benefits both you and your audience.

4.      Visualization – explain the consequences of inaction, or the results of action.

5.      Action – tell the audience what they can do to enact the solution.


Your writing assignment for this week is to write a persuasive letter or e-mail to someone, asking for something. You may ask your parents for money, or a celebrity for an autograph, or a prospective employer for a job, or for your significant other to marry you – the possibilities are endless, and you are not limited by those suggestions. Please pick something relevant to you. The only thing you may not do is to ask me for an A – I’ve heard that all before! See if you can use Aristotle’s persuasive characteristics, the concept of WIIFM, and Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, all in the same document. (This exercise will make you think about structure as well as content.)



Your assignment is due Friday by 11:59 p.m. Please do this in a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) and upload it to UB Learns.

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