Jump To Content

LearnHub




How to Write a Persuasive Letter


PURPOSE:

In a persuasive letter, the writer expresses an opinion about a relevant issue. People write persuasive letters to convince others to think a certain way and/or take an action.

AUDIENCE:

Persuasive letters are written daily to a variety of audiences, including businesses, government officials, parents, and school personnel. They call for actions which range from voting for or against proposed legislation to replacing a defective product with a new one.

While similar to editorials and letters to the editor, persuasive letters differ in that they address a more specific audience than the general readership of a publication.

CHARACTERISTICS

A good persuasive letter should include most of the following characteristics:

Addresses the appropriate audience (reader), one with the authority to take the action the writer desires

Engages the reader in the first paragraph

Expresses the situation clearly and succinctly

Indicates a thorough knowledge of the situation and evidence of deliberation

Acknowledges and addresses the reader's anticipated point of view

Provides specific details to support the writer's opinion

Develops ideas through a logical sequence of informati

States clearly the outcome the writer desires with suggestions for implementation

Leaves the reader with a vision of why the action desired would be beneficial

Follows business or friendly letter format, depending on the audience


STEPS FOR WRITING A PERSUASIVE LETTER

STEP 1 - READ MODELS

Ask the following questions as you read the models:

What is the situation, current issue, problem, etc. the writer addresses?

What is the writer's opinion on this subject?

Where is the opinion stated in the letter?

How does the writer give support for that opinion

What technique(s) does the writer use to persuade the reader?

How is information arranged?

What is the tone of the letter? What words or phrases contribute to this tone?

What action, if any, does the writer want the reader to take?


STEP 2 - DECIDE ON A TOPIC

Ask the following questions to help decide on a topic:

What would you like to see happen at home, at school, in the community or the nation?

What changes would you like to see at the home, school, community, or national levels?

What changes in policy would you like to see in a business, a television network, local or national government?

Do you have a complaint or concern about a restaurant, store, or product?

Once you have identified some possible topics, ask the Is the desired change or expectation realistic and/or feasible?

Do I have a passionate interest in the topic? Is it truly important to me?

Can I relate to it personally?

Am I willing to learn more about the issue before writing about it?

Do I know or am I willing to find out who the appropriate audience is for my letter?


STEP 3 - STATE THE DESIRED OUTCOME

In one sentence, state your opinion on the subject and the outcome you desire.

STEP 4 - DETERMINE AND ANALYZE THE APPROPRIATE AUDIENCE

Writing the letter to the right person is a key factor in achieving the outcome you desire. Letters written to the wrong person often end up in trashcans with no action taken.


To help determine the appropriate audience, ask the following questions:

Who has the authority to make this happen?

Who has some influence over others who have the authority to make this happen?

Within a business or government agency, which department or individual is the appropriate target for the letter?

Once you have identified the appropriate audience, you need to analyze the reader. Consider the following factors:

What does this reader already know about the topic? What information should I provide?

What opinion does the reader have now on the subject?

What objections might this reader have to my request?

With what aspect of my opinion might the reader identify?

What approach might I take to get the attention of this reader?

STEP 5 - PLAN THE SUPPORTING DETAILS

To determine the kinds of information you might use to develop your ideas and accomplish your tasks, answer the following questions:

What facts, statistics, examples, or illustrations will help the reader see the importance of changing his or her position?

What information can I give the reader to make his/her position uncomfortable?

What information can I include that will negate the reader's counter arguments (objections)?

What personal appeal will most likely cause the reader to take action

STEP 6 - DO THE RESEARCH

Often persuasive letters lack substance. Student writers tell how they feel about an issue or situation and what they would like to see done, but they fail to persuade anyone else to share their point of view. In order for persuasive writing to be successful, you need to do the necessary research. You need to find facts and illustrations to support your argument. Also look for ways to address potential concerns/resistance of your reader.


This information might come from:

Personal experience

Other situations or examples from the past or present

Statistical information from surveys or personal interviews

Other primary or secondary research

STEP 7 - ORGANIZE THE DETAILS

Student writers have a tendency to present information without ever considering the needs of their reader. In order to change someone's opinion and/or influence that person to take some action, you, the writer, MUST keep the reader in mind. Before drafting, you need to consider different ways of presenting your case and then develop a plan.

Begin to organize the details you have gathered by using a combination of the following approaches:

LOGIC: Consider the following approaches:

Analogy - a situation familiar to the reader is compared with one the writer wants to focus on (example: mandatory AIDS testing is compared with McCarthyism or the Salem witch trials)

Cause-and-effect relationships - one event is proven to be the cause of another

Facts, example, and illustrations - used to support or explain a given situation or idea

Judgments or opinions - used to support ideas that cannot be proven

EMOTIONAL APPEAL: Help the reader become personally involved in the argument by appealing to one or more of the following:

Physiological needs such as food, drink, and shelter


Psychological needs such as the need to be loved or to be attractive, accepted, or successful

Emotions such as love, hate, guilt, loyalty, pride, self-esteem

CREDIBILITY: You can achieve credibility by:

Treating the reader as an equal

Avoiding illogical thinking

Using only subtle emotional appeal

Showing a clear understanding of the topic

You also need to consider whether you will present your points in order of most important to least important or least important to most important.

When deciding, consider these questions:

What benefit will result from my reader considering my most powerful argument first? Last?

What negative effective might result?

How can I best get and keep the attention of my reader?


STEP 8 - DEVELOPMENT OF DRAFT


FIRST PARAGRAPH


ATTENTION GETTING DEVICE -

Rhetorical question - a question posed for emphasis of a point, not for the purpose of getting an answer

Imagery - the words or phrases a writer selects to create a certain picture in the reader's mind. Imagery is usually based on sensory details.

Anecdote - a short story told to illustrate a point

Startling fact or statistic - a fact or statistic that will shock the reader

Quotation - use words of a well-known individual


BACKGROUND INFORMATION -

What does the audience need to know about the subject?

Why should the audience be concerned about the subject?


THESIS STATEMENT - a statement of the purpose, intent, or main idea of writing.

Example: Mason County High School should increase graduation requirements from twenty-two credits to twenty-four credits.

BODY PARAGRAPHS -

Present the two, three, or even four arguments supporting the thesis statement and acknowledge the strongest opposing point of view and present counter-arguments. Present your arguments using logical appeal and emotional appeals.


· Logical appeal = valid reasons + EVIDENCE (facts, statistics, anecdotes, examples, expert opinion)

· Emotional appeals - appealing to basic feelings within the audience: sense of belonging, security, love, pity, etc.


CONCLUSION - Summarize your points and present a CALL TO

ACTION!!!

*As you develop your letter, be sure to use two or three persuasive techniques!


· PERSUASIVE LETTERS

PURPOSE:

In a persuasive letter, the writer expresses an opinion about a relevant issue. People write persuasive letters to convince others to think a certain way and/or take an action.


AUDIENCE:

Persuasive letters are written daily to a variety of audiences, including businesses, government officials, parents, and school personnel. They call for actions which range from voting for or against proposed legislation to replacing a defective product with a new one.


While similar to editorials and letters to the editor, persuasive letters differ in that they address a more specific audience than the general readership of a publication.

CHARACTERISTICS

A good persuasive letter should include most of the following characteristics:

Addresses the appropriate audience (reader), one with the authority to take the action the writer desires

Engages the reader in the first paragraph

Expresses the situation clearly and succinctly

Indicates a thorough knowledge of the situation and evidence of deliberation

Acknowledges and addresses the reader's anticipated point of view

Provides specific details to support the writer's opinion

Develops ideas through a logical sequence of information

States clearly the outcome the writer desires with suggestions for implementation

Leaves the reader with a vision of why the action desired would be beneficial

Follows business or friendly letter format, depending on the audience


STEPS FOR WRITING A PERSUASIVE LETTER

STEP 1 - READ MODELS

Ask the following questions as you read the models:

What is the situation, current issue, problem, etc. the writer addresses?

What is the writer's opinion on this subject?

Where is the opinion stated in the letter?

How does the writer give support for that opinion

What technique(s) does the writer use to persuade the reader?

How is information arranged?

What is the tone of the letter? What words or phrases contribute to this tone?

What action, if any, does the writer want the reader to take?

STEP 2 - DECIDE ON A TOPIC

Ask the following questions to help decide on a topic:

What would you like to see happen at home, at school, in the community or the nation?

What changes would you like to see at the home, school, community, or national levels?

What changes in policy would you like to see in a business, a television network, local or national government?

Do you have a complaint or concern about a restaurant, store, or product?

Once you have identified some possible topics, ask the following:

Is the desired change or expectation realistic and/or feasible?

Do I have a passionate interest in the topic? Is it truly important to me?

Can I relate to it personally?

Am I willing to learn more about the issue before writing about it?

Do I know or am I willing to find out who the appropriate audience is for my letter?

STEP 3 - STATE THE DESIRED OUTCOME

In one sentence, state your opinion on the subject and the outcome you desire.

STEP 4 - DETERMINE AND ANALYZE THE APPROPRIATE AUDIENCE

Writing the letter to the right person is a key factor in achieving the outcome you desire. Letters written to the wrong person often end up in trashcans with no action taken.

To help determine the appropriate audience, ask the following questions:

Who has the authority to make this happen?

Who has some influence over others who have the authority to make this happen?

Within a business or government agency, which department or individual is the appropriate target for the letter?

Once you have identified the appropriate audience, you need to analyze the reader. Consider the following factors:

What does this reader already know about the topic? What information should I provide?

What opinion does the reader have now on the subject?

What objections might this reader have to my request?

With what aspect of my opinion might the reader identify?

What approach might I take to get the attention of this reader?

STEP 5 - PLAN THE SUPPORTING DETAILS

To determine the kinds of information you might use to develop your ideas and accomplish your tasks, answer the following questions:

What facts, statistics, examples, or illustrations will help the reader see the importance of changing his or her position?

What information can I give the reader to make his/her position uncomfortable?

What information can I include that will negate the reader's counter arguments (objections)?

What personal appeal will most likely cause the reader to take action

STEP 6 - DO THE RESEARCH

Often persuasive letters lack substance. Student writers tell how they feel about an issue or situation and what they would like to see done, but they fail to persuade anyone else to share their point of view. In order for persuasive writing to be successful, you need to do the necessary research. You need to find facts and illustrations to support your argument. Also look for ways to address potential concerns/resistance of your reader.

This information might come from:

Personal experience

Other situations or examples from the past or present

Statistical information from surveys or personal interviews

Other primary or secondary research

STEP 7 - ORGANIZE THE DETAILS

Student writers have a tendency to present information without ever considering the needs of their reader. In order to change someone's opinion and/or influence that person to take some action, you, the writer, MUST keep the reader in mind. Before drafting, you need to consider different ways of presenting your case and then develop a plan.

Begin to organize the details you have gathered by using a combination of the following approaches:

LOGIC: Consider the following approaches:

Analogy - a situation familiar to the reader is compared with one the writer wants to focus on (example: mandatory AIDS testing is compared with McCarthyism or the Salem witch trials)

Cause-and-effect relationships - one event is proven to be the cause of another

Facts, example, and illustrations - used to support or explain a given situation or idea

Judgments or opinions - used to support ideas that cannot be proven

EMOTIONAL APPEAL: Help the reader become personally involved in the argument by appealing to one or more of the following:

Physiological needs such as food, drink, and shelter


Psychological needs such as the need to be loved or to be attractive, accepted, or successful

Emotions such as love, hate, guilt, loyalty, pride, self-esteem

CREDIBILITY: You can achieve credibility by

Treating the reader as an equal

Avoiding illogical thinking

Using only subtle emotional appeal

Showing a clear understanding of the topic

You also need to consider whether you will present your points in order of most important to least important or least important to most important.

When deciding, consider these questions:

What benefit will result from my reader considering my most powerful argument first? Last?

What negative effective might result?

How can I best get and keep the attention of my reader?

STEP 8 - DEVELOPMENT OF DRAFT

FIRST PARAGRAPH

ATTENTION GETTING DEVICE -

Rhetorical question - a question posed for emphasis of a point, not for the purpose of getting an answer

Imagery - the words or phrases a writer selects to create a certain picture in the reader's mind. Imagery is usually based on sensory details.

Anecdote - a short story told to illustrate a point

Startling fact or statistic - a fact or statistic that will shock the reader

Quotation - use words of a well-known individual

BACKGROUND INFORMATION -

What does the audience need to know about the subject?

Why should the audience be concerned about the subject

THESIS STATEMENT - a statement of the purpose, intent, or main idea of writing.

Example: Mason County High School should increase graduation requirements from twenty-two credits to twenty-four credits.

BODY PARAGRAPHS -

Present the two, three, or even four arguments supporting the thesis statement and acknowledge the strongest opposing point of view and present counter-arguments. Present your arguments using logical appeal and emotional appeals.


Logical appeal = valid reasons + EVIDENCE (facts, statistics, anecdotes, examples, expert opinion)

Emotional appeals - appealing to basic feelings within the audience: sense of belonging, security, love, pity, etc.

CONCLUSION - Summarize your points and present a CALL TO

ACTION!!!

*As you develop your letter, be sure to use two or three persuasive techniques!

REPEPITION - the repeating of a word or phrase (Ex. "I have a dream that…" This phrase is used several times throughout Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.)

PARALLELISM - the repeating of phrases or sentences that are similar (parallel) in meaning and structure (Ex. "…of the people, by the people, for the people.") - the repeating of a word or phrase (Ex. "I have a dream that…" This phrase is used several times throughout Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.)

PARALLELISM - the repeating of phrases or sentences that are similar (parallel) in meaning and structure (Ex. "…of the people, by the people, for the people.")

  1. Juanito saidTue, 02 Feb 2010 22:12:23 -0000 ( Link )

    Very good lesson. I like it!

    Actions
    Vote
    Current Rating
    2
    Rate Up
    Rate Down
    2 Total Votes

    Post Comments

  2. EtNigga saidTue, 01 Feb 2011 15:46:15 -0000 ( Link )

    EEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZ NUTZ

    Actions
    Vote
    Current Rating
    1
    Rate Up
    Rate Down
    1 Total Vote

    Post Comments

  3. EtNigga saidTue, 01 Feb 2011 15:46:24 -0000 ( Link )

    EEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZ NUTZ

    Actions
    Vote
    Current Rating
    1
    Rate Up
    Rate Down
    1 Total Vote

    Post Comments

  4. WOWOW saidSat, 28 May 2011 13:23:05 -0000 ( Link )

    This helped me alot to write my letter.THANKS.

    Actions
    Vote
    Current Rating
    1
    Rate Up
    Rate Down
    1 Total Vote

    Post Comments

  5. ssalecis saidThu, 28 Jul 2011 13:02:50 -0000 ( Link )

    it helps me lots of thaks ,salecis

    Actions
    Vote
    Current Rating
    1
    Rate Up
    Rate Down
    1 Total Vote

    Post Comments

Your Comment
Textile is Enabled (View Reference)