Persuasive writing

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By Sue Palmer — independent Inset-provider and contributor to the NLS

The plight of children who worked for a living in Victorian times provides an ideal context for developing persuasive writing skills


The term ‘persuasion text’ covers a vast range of materials, from simple advertisements to debates in broadsheet newspapers. However, both of these types of text share the same purpose: to win the hearts, minds – and possibly money – of their readers. Both can be planned on the ‘pronged bullet skeleton’ shown below.

At the core of persuasive writing is the organisational structure of ‘point + elaboration’. An advertisement may be one main point (usually “Buy this!”), elaborated by attention-grabbing, emotive devices like illustration, word-play, shape, colour and design. In a written argument (see the ‘Letter to the Victorian Times’), there are usually a number of main points, each supported by various types of elaboration. For instance, there may be explanatory detail, exemplification, or some form of evidence for the point being argued. The points must be carefully organised so that the argument is logically coherent. These should also be expressed in a way that will convince the readership, appealing to both their heads and hearts.

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