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Writing Persuasively

Writing persuasively is about convincing others to your way of thinking.

'People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found out by others.' Blaise Pascal, 17th-century French mathematician, physicist, inventor and philosopher.

This quote from Pascal illustrates why the art of persuasive writing can be so difficult to master. No one likes to be thought of as easily persuadable. And yet so many writing tasks require the ability to persuade others.

This quiz tests your knowledge of the techniques and skills used in this form of writing.

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  1. What is the purpose of persuasive writing?
  2. Which of the following forms would NOT be suitable for persuasive writing?
    Even online, an encyclopaedia entry will be written purely to inform
  3. What is the difference between writing to argue and writing to persuade?
    You will still need to support your view, otherwise how can you change anyone's mind?  You might also have to present the opposing point of view and prove that it's not correct.  You do not, however, have to be as balanced and fair as if you are presenting an argument
  4. When writing to persuade, you may express...
  5. What might happen if you do not consider the needs of your audience?
    Try to anticipate the needs, wishes or beliefs of your audience - make an emotional connection with them
  6. How does using an anecdote make your writing more effective and, therefore, persuasive?
    We all know from personal experience that we are more likely to change our minds if listening to someone we trust (did you spot the 'we all know from personal experience'?  This is a common persuasive technique)
  7. What should be included in the introduction to a piece of persuasive writing?
    You will also need to reiterate this in your conclusion.  You wouldn't want your audience to forget!
  8. What does it mean to 'appeal to reason'?
    You might also try an 'appeal to character' or an 'appeal to emotion'
  9. Which of the following exam questions requires a piece of persuasive writing in answer?
  10. Given the answer to question nine, who would be your audience?
    Sometimes your audience is general and you will need to consider how best to appeal to everyone

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