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Persuasive writing is a very interesting genre. Other types of writing might involve an element of fantasy or make-believe but, if you think about it, persuasive writing must be one of the few that actually expect you to act upon it. It is also fascinating to think that many of us would, as readers, be quite capable of pointing out the ways in which our beliefs, feelings and actions are being manipulated, yet we often fall for it anyway.
Now’s your chance to introduce your class to a range of persuasive writing techniques that will help them produce convincing textual arguments from promotional leaflets to persuasive letters.
What is persuasive writing?
Here’s a question that might be fun to put to your students: is persuasive writing fiction or non-fiction? Your first answer would probably depend on how cynical you are. Nevertheless, it should be seen as a non-fiction genre because any proposition being promoted should be grounded in honesty. That’s why we have things like advertising rules, libel laws and trading standards. Even so, we all know that some persuasive writing stretches the truth to breaking point. At the very least, it often presents a very biased or one-sided view. As a teacher, you should insist on pupils using language to persuade rather than deceive.
Persuasive writing techniques KS2
Teaching persuasive writing might seem akin to teaching dark arts in a school for magic but it’s really just another form of effective writing or writing for a purpose – and every writer should be doing that! Remember, not every trick will work in every situation but it is important that pupils have a good understanding of a range of persuasive writing features. Here are a few of the most obvious ones.
Features of persuasive writing – Powerful vocabulary
The choice of words really matters in persuasive writing – almost as much as in poetry. Apparently, there has been research carried out into this but a quick internet search reveals a broad consensus as to what the most powerfully persuasive words are. Here are just a few to share with your pupils, remembering that not every word will be relevant to every persuasive writing task. Nor are they necessarily the most adventurous words in the dictionary. They are just known to be effective.
New, free and save always grab people’s attention, for obvious reasons. Because is always a useful one because people like a good explanation. Easy and guaranteed tend to put the reader’s mind at rest. Discover is like a more active version of new; hurry builds a sense of urgency and everyone likes to think they are in on a secret. However, there is one word that tops them all…
Grab the reader’s attention with this persuasive device
We’re talking to you!. Wherever possible, pupils should be encouraged to write a persuasive piece in the second person. This is because it is much easier to persuade someone if they think you are addressing them directly. Obvious really, wouldn’t you agree?
Persuasive language – Hype
Short for hyperbole, hype is one of the most important persuasive strategies featured in more-commercial forms of persuasive writing. This is where that line between fiction and non-fiction can get blurred because hyperbole means exaggeration. Encourage pupils to use words like amazing, outstanding and incredible, which are powerful without being quantifiable. Words like unbeatable are certainly hyperbolic but might stretch credibility too far, especially since almost anything can be beaten.
A final thought on the subject of hyperbole: one exclamation mark is enough … and often one too many.
How to write persuasively – Logical arguments and order
This might seem surprising at first but putting your ideas in the right order is a crucial part of this genre. After all, a good persuasive text should be like a well-thought-through argument, giving the reader a good reason to believe you. If the order of your persuasive essay or persuasive letter doesn’t make sense, nor will the logic and your point might be lost. That’s why planning is so important, not only to make sure you’ve thought of the best points, but also to check that you’ve lined them up in the most compelling order.
Have you ever wondered why advertisements use questions? Do you want to be a more persuasive writer? If so, you need questions in your writing. Questions draw the reader into your argument because you can hardly avoid answering them the moment you read them, even if it’s only subconsciously. Just make sure that your question has no chance of making the reader say “No!” because then you would have lost them.
Persuasive writing examples and resources
Once you have shown your pupils the toolkit, give them plenty of chance to hone their skills. Our persuasive writing challenge mat resource is a great way to help them apply their knowledge through a range of writing challenges. Or why not try our Grammar Burst pack for using cohesive devices in persuasive writing – a series of five lessons culminating in an extended writing task?
You could also try our persuasive writing model text pack, complete with vocabulary bank, writing plan and success criteria. Or, if you’re feeling brave enough, take a look at our Bug Banquet writing topic which builds towards your pupils writing a text to persuade you to try eating insects.
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What is persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing tries to convince the reader to do something or believe something. Adverts, reviews, leaflets and letters can all include persuasion.
Persuasive writing examples
Have a break, have a Kit Kat.
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr
You should do your homework first, then you have all weekend to play and don’t have to worry about it.
Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?
David Foster Wallace ‘Consider the Lobster’
Persuasive writing techniques
“Is the Pope Catholic?”
Opinion stated as fact
This is the greatest invention of the 21st-century!”
“Gillette, the best a man can get.”
“I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation.”
William Lloyd Garrison
“For just £5 a month you can help her and others in her village access clean water that will save lives.”
”...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
“If the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit”