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A Guide to Persuasive Writing: Reviews and Articles

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

In our fast-paced world of information and argument, persuasive writing plays a pivotal role. The ability to effectively persuade others not only enhances your communication skills but can also contribute significantly to personal and professional growth. As students, mastering this art can help you to succeed in academic writing, debates, and presentations. This article provides an in-depth analysis of persuasive writing, its various forms, features, and a step-by-step guide to writing an effective persuasive essay.

1. Understanding Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing aims to convince the reader about a particular idea, viewpoint, or product. This form of writing is widely used across multiple mediums, including reviews, feature articles, opinion pieces, and letters.

Reviews might discuss cultural events, such as plays or films, or texts like novels, poetry, or non-fiction.

Read the following text which describes the writer’s experience of watching a particular show in a theatre.

Taken on its own terms, however, my first brush with the show on stage (I saw the film version with Madonna) leaves little impression. Most of the numbers blend together and the strongest melody is reprised throughout beginning with “What A Circus,” the famed peak “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” and the finale. Th is unfolding of a melody throughout a show can climax with a powerful “reveal” of the number. Here it simply feels like leaning on a good tune too oft en. Still, this is a handsome production with a full orchestra sounding marvelous. One can imagine a hungry, attention-grabbing actress like Patti Lupone making the most of the spotlight. Unfortunately, the acclaimed actress Elena Roger can barely hold the stage. Her voice is not remotely equipped for the part and her stage presence is minimal. You look at the spectacle of this Evita when you should be riveted on Eva Peron herself. An entire nation prostrates itself at her feet? You doubt they’d even notice her… Evita should be a fiercely ambitious character as embodied in her singing. But Roger’s voice is so thin and small (she played Edith Piaf in another hit show in London) that it simply disappears in the higher register. You’re more worried for her than intimidated or magnetized. Her best moments occur when she can stay in that lower register and speak-sing a song, such as the duet “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You,” with Cerveris. He, by the way, is a marvelous performer, but paired with Roger and singing what is essentially a dull and uninteresting role, even Cerveris can’t do much. Also less demanding vocally (though during this song she’s dancing quite a bit) is “Buenos Aires” with Martin. He’s an amiable presence on stage albeit with little of the ability to give Che the edginess and cynicism the role desperately needs. When it comes to that iconic number “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” Roger simply makes you feel nervous. It works better at the end when her frail voice can be seen as in character, since Evita is dying when she reprises the tune from her deathbed (where, frankly, it makes more emotional sense than it does on the balcony anyway). She’s especially exposed on “You Must Love Me,” the ballad written for the fi lm which she sings alone on a stage with Cerveris. Without sets and dancing and other cast members to distract, you have nothing to focus on but her unconvincing vocals. Frankly, it’s diffi cult to understand why she was cast in London, much less here, where the standards for musicals are and should be the highest in the world. Roger unquestionably does not possess the pipes to sing this part. Since this isn’t a dance show where dancing might be the most important talent and she certainly doesn’t act anyone off the stage, why would her ability to—at best—get through the big numbers rather than nail them be acceptable? The entire show is built around what should be the fiery performance at its heart, making this Evita very cool indeed… ‘Do Cry for Argentina’ by Michael Giltz, from The Huffington Post.

Feature articles usually tackle a specific issue or topic in magazines or newspapers, while opinion pieces present a straightforward take on a subject of debate.

Now read the text below taken from an article by a newspaper columnist. In it, she addresses the issue of parenthood.

Enough. Enough already. I don’t want to hear any more. I am sick of reading about mums feeling desolate, how hard motherhood is … Th e joy around Victoria Beckham having a girl aft er three boys was as ridiculous as her heels. Th ank God! Yes, her life making frocks in LA with David and three gorgeous boys must have been torture before. I don’t want to mum-bash, but I do want mums to open their eyes and see what they have. At the risk of being lynched – give it a break. Give me a break. Give women like me, who wanted children but don’t have them, a break. You mums do not know how blessed you are – so please just be happy and quit complaining. You got the prize. You have the child. Rejoice. Of course being a mum has its diffi culties – but they are fi nite and surmountable. If you haven’t had a child, that devastating problem can never be solved. So raising a child is expensive? So is being single and living alone. You are tired and shattered? Th at must be horrible – but that feeling can be short-term and the pros (snuggling up to your warm, chubby baby) surely outweigh that particular con? (And let me tell you, the emotional upset of crying congratulations down the phone when your sister nervously tells you she is pregnant, just days aft er you’ve been told you most probably never will be, can be exhausting too.) You feel you have lost your identity? Well, I’d say you’ve gained a better one. And the women who write “mum” on their Twitter and Facebook bios know that too. Mothers are treated as superior citizens. Pavements and public transport become yours (I was once asked to get off a bus so a woman with a pram could get on, but let’s not reenact that ugly scene here) and the world can’t get enough of you. From an article by Bibi Lynch, The Guardian

Letters published in newspapers or other media, written to persuade, often respond to current issues or events.

(Exam Task: A local newspaper recently published an article challenging people to avoid using any digital devices for a week. Readers were invited to take up the challenge and to write letters about their experience. Write two contrasting letters (300– 450 words each): one by a person whose experience was positive, and the other by a person whose experience was negative.)

**Letter 1: Embracing the Unplugged Life** Subject: A Refreshing Digital Detox - A Week of Reconnection Dear Editor, I am writing to share my surprisingly positive experience following your digital detox challenge. Admittedly, I was skeptical at first, given how reliant I've become on my devices for work, entertainment, and staying connected with friends and family. However, I decided to give it a try, and I'm delighted to report that it's been an incredibly enlightening and liberating journey. During this tech-free week, I found myself rediscovering simple joys that I'd forgotten in the hustle and bustle of digital life. I dove into the books collecting dust on my shelf, explored local parks, and even took up sketching. The constant barrage of notifications and updates that once cluttered my mind was replaced with the tranquillity of silence and focus. Moreover, my interactions with friends and family became more meaningful. Instead of texting or video-calling, we met for coffee or a walk in the park. I realized how much we miss in digital communication - the warmth of a smile, the comfort of a hug, or the joy of shared laughter. My sleep improved significantly without the temptation of late-night scrolling, and I found myself more productive and focused during the day. The anxiety induced by the constant influx of news and social media updates was replaced by a sense of calm and contentment. In conclusion, this digital detox week was a much-needed reminder of the importance of balance. While digital devices have become a critical part of our lives, it's essential to disconnect occasionally and reconnect with the world around us. I am grateful for this challenge, and I plan to incorporate regular tech-free periods into my routine. Best regards, [Your Name] --- **Letter 2: My Difficult Week Without Digital Devices** Subject: Lost in a Digital Age - The Struggles of Going Offline Dear Editor, After reading about the digital detox challenge, I was intrigued and decided to give it a shot. Little did I know, this week would prove to be one of the most challenging experiences of my life. In the initial phase, I felt an overwhelming sense of isolation. My devices were not merely tools for entertainment but also essential communication links to my friends, family, and the broader world. I felt cut off and out of touch, missing out on important updates and conversations. Additionally, my work suffered significantly. As someone who relies on digital tools for research, collaboration, and communication, I found it incredibly difficult to maintain my productivity. The challenge made me realize the extent to which my professional life is intertwined with digital technology. I also struggled with simple tasks like navigating to new places or checking the weather, things I had taken for granted with my smartphone at hand. The convenience and efficiency that technology offers were sorely missed. While I understand the motive behind the challenge - to encourage a healthier relationship with technology - my experience showed me how integral these devices have become in our daily lives. They serve as vital connectors, not just to the Internet, but to our communities, our work, and our world. In conclusion, while I agree that it's important to manage our screen time and not become overly reliant on digital technology, a complete digital detox seemed more disruptive than beneficial in my experience. Instead, I believe in striving for a balanced approach, where we harness the advantages of digital devices without letting them overshadow our offline lives. Yours sincerely, [Your Name]

The style and language used in persuasive writing vary according to the form, audience, and the writer's stance. While some writers use highly emotive language for maximum impact, others may adopt a more balanced tone, employing reasoned argument to make their point. The techniques and strategies used in persuasive writing can include:

- Loaded, emotive language:

Expressing strong feelings or emotions to influence the reader's mood or opinions.

"Join our campaign today and help save the innocent lives of thousands of defenseless animals trapped in cruel and inhumane conditions. Together, we can make a difference and create a world of compassion and justice."

- Rhetorical effects and devices:

Using rhetorical questions or other rhetorical devices to provoke thought or challenge the reader's perspective.

"Can we continue to ignore the pressing issue of climate change? Is our planet's future worth sacrificing for short-term gains? It's time to take action and protect our environment for generations to come."

- Humour or ironic comment:

Making humorous or ironic remarks to engage the reader's interest and present arguments in a unique, memorable way.

"Whoever said money can't buy happiness clearly never tasted a slice of decadent chocolate cake. Indulge in a little slice of heaven and let your taste buds do the happy dance."

- Expanded noun phrases:

Enhancing descriptions or arguments by providing more detailed information about the noun.

"Experience the breathtaking beauty of the pristine, turquoise waters as they gently caress the powdery, white sand. Immerse yourself in a paradise that will leave you awestruck and rejuvenated."

- Hyperbole:

Using exaggeration for comic, sarcastic or dramatic impact to emphasize a point.

"Our team worked tirelessly day and night, battling insurmountable odds, to deliver the most groundbreaking invention of the century. Prepare to have your mind blown by the innovation that will revolutionize the way we live."

- Direct appeal to the reader:

Engaging the reader in a conversational tone using question tags or other informal forms.

"Don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Are you ready to seize the moment and unlock your full potential? Join us now and embark on a journey of personal growth and success."

- Technical or specialist/subject-specific vocabulary:

Using specialized language to establish credibility and expertise.

"Utilizing cutting-edge algorithms and advanced data analytics, our software optimizes resource allocation and streamlines workflow processes, ensuring maximum efficiency and productivity for your business."

Remember, the ultimate goal is to sway the reader's viewpoint in favor of your argument.

2. Writing an Effective Persuasive Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Understand your topic

Before you start writing, you need to fully understand the topic you're discussing. Research from various sources to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the subject. This not only provides you with ample information to argue your point but also enables you to counter opposing arguments effectively.

2. Know your audience

Understanding your audience is crucial in persuasive writing. The arguments you put forth, the tone you adopt, and the vocabulary you use should all resonate with your readers. If you're writing for a group of experts, use jargon; if it's for a younger audience, adopt a more casual tone.

3. Develop a strong thesis statement

Your thesis statement is the core of your essay. It should clearly state your position on the topic and briefly outline the arguments you'll present to support your stance. Make sure it's strong, clear, and concise.

4. Structure your essay well

An effective persuasive essay should have an introduction that grabs the reader's attention, body paragraphs that each cover a separate argument, and a conclusion that reinforces your thesis statement. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that introduces the argument, followed by evidence to support it, and a concluding sentence that summarizes the argument and transitions to the next.

5. Use persuasive techniques

Implement the persuasive techniques discussed earlier. Use emotive language, rhetorical devices, humor, irony, and technical vocabulary to

make your arguments more compelling. Also, be sure to maintain a balance between emotional appeal and logical arguments.

6. Revise and Edit

Finally, always revise and edit your work. Look for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Also, make sure your arguments are coherent, your evidence is strong, and your essay flows smoothly from one point to another.

3. Persuasive Techniques

The Expert View

Often, a persuasive essay benefits from the author's expert view. This implies that the writer is knowledgeable and has a firm understanding of the subject. Here are some ways an expert view can manifest itself:

- Specialist or technical terms: The use of specific industry-related or subject-specific terms that the author is competent in using can establish their credibility.

- Expressed perspective: The author confidently expresses their viewpoint, demonstrating their expertise and understanding of the subject matter.

- References to similar works: By referring to other similar texts, plays, or whatever the subject might be, the writer exhibits a broader understanding of the context surrounding their topic.


In a discussion about renewable energy sources, an expert view can be incorporated in the following ways:

- Specialist or technical terms: "Solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal systems are key components of a sustainable energy infrastructure. Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity, while wind turbines harness the power of wind to generate clean energy. Geothermal systems utilize the Earth's natural heat to provide heating and cooling solutions."

- Expressed perspective: "As an experienced energy engineer with over a decade of research and implementation in the field, I firmly believe that transitioning to renewable energy sources is not only essential for mitigating climate change but also offers long-term economic benefits. By investing in solar, wind, and geothermal technologies, we can reduce carbon emissions and create a more sustainable future."

- References to similar works: "Numerous studies, such as the International Energy Agency's report on renewable energy integration, have shown the viability and effectiveness of transitioning to renewable energy. Additionally, countries like Germany and Denmark have successfully implemented renewable energy strategies, leading the way in sustainable practices and setting an example for other nations to follow."

By incorporating these elements, the author establishes themselves as an expert in the field, providing credibility to their arguments and enhancing the persuasive power of the essay.

In film reviews, for example, the critic might draw upon their understanding of cinematic techniques, discuss similar films, and provide a unique perspective based on their expertise.

Here's a film review example:

Title: The Matrix (1999) - A Game-Changing Sci-Fi Classic Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5) "The Matrix" revolutionized the science fiction genre, delivering a mind-bending narrative, groundbreaking visual effects, and a captivating exploration of reality. Keanu Reeves shines as Neo, the reluctant hero, while the film's action sequences and philosophical themes continue to mesmerize audiences. A true cinematic masterpiece that forever changed the landscape of storytelling.

Evoking Thought Processes

A persuasive writer often employs sentence structure and types to convey their state of mind. They might use long, complex sentences to explore nuanced thoughts, and short, simple ones to convey straightforward or emphatic ideas.

For instance, a sports commentator might write, "I wondered if I was watching the same team I’d seen last year. It was bizarre. United players kept falling over or passing to the other team. What was going on?" Here, the short questions demonstrate the writer's confusion and disbelief. Later, they might use a short sentence like "No surprise there" to express resignation or indifference.

In restaurant reviews, writers might similarly express their thoughts and observations, changing or developing their opinion as they experience the meal. They might also demonstrate their knowledge (or feigned lack thereof) to offer a nuanced view of the experience.

Th is week’s restaurant is housed in what, from the outside, is a lovely hunk of oldness. I want to say Victorian, but perhaps it’s Georgian. Or older. Or younger. I don’t know. It’s pretty. What do I know about architecture? And the mere fact that I am banging on about the outside of the restaurant, as if standing with my toe on the threshold, hesitating before taking you inside, speaks volumes. Can I also say that the people inside seem nice? Smiley. Rather sweet. Welcoming. Oh God. Th is is tough. Not as tough as it’s going to be for them to read, but less than easy all the same. I considered reviewing without naming them; holding up the faults as ones from which others could learn. But that, I realised, was a stupid idea. Th ey may be nice people. Th ey may have their hearts in the right place. But they are still charging money – £90 for two is not peanuts – and, aft er all, who am I writing for? So come with me then, into the fl ag-stoned hallway, which is brightly lit. Not just “Oh, I can see my way” brightly lit but “Blimey, that’s a bit sharp” brightly lit. And from there into the “lounge”, which is the last place you’d want to do such a thing. Th e lights are up so high you can see every scuff mark on the walls, every tatty seam on the oddly positioned dun-coloured sofas. Young people’s music clatters and bangs off every hard surface. We order a couple of “Kia Royals”. It’s viciously sweet. Th en I think: maybe it’s my fault. When what should be a mix of champagne and a blush of cassis costs £4 the clue is in the price. One of the staff gets out a mop and starts slopping down the fl oor in the doorway. Th rough to the completely empty dining room, which is equally brightly lit. Th e music continues to rattle the lonely glassware. Th is is a very quiet restaurant. It is trying. To which I immediately want to add “very”. It feels like a place that hasn’t worked out how to do the thing it wants to do. Th e food is a mix of odd and uncertain and not quite. Sautéed fi eld mushrooms come on what feel like toasted pieces of pre-sliced brown bread. Th e advertised smoked stilton – why would you smoke stilton? – makes no impact. It’s a pile of things, as though cobbled together from ingredients at the back of the fridge. Dense cod fritters come on a big, dry pile of garden peas with hunks of chorizo. Th ere is meant to be a butter and sage sauce, but there is no sign of it. A main-course duck dish is brown. Very, very brown: a few squares of roasted brown root vegetables, a huge brown breaded mashed potato croquette like a draught excluder, some slices of overdone brown duck. A brown sauce. It’s a strange plateful for £17.50. Better are some plaice fi llets with planks of crisp bacon and vast amounts of mash. We console ourselves with a well-priced bottle of wine. Desserts are the one clear success. A crème brûlée with Kahlua is a bit solid, but at least you can’t taste the Kahlua. A pear and almond tart is an expert piece of tart making. Pastry seems to be something the kitchen is good at. From time to time someone wanders into the dining room to ask if everything is all right, but we don’t want to intrude on private grief by being honest so we say fi ne. Th is restaurant was chosen for review aft er much research. Views were sourced, temperatures taken. Th e website looked convincing. I did not want to go to the obvious places. It was with the best of intentions. Th e team here have a lovely site, they really do. But if they want it to work, they have to change. And they could start by turning down the lights, before somebody else comes along and switches them off altogether. From a review by Jay Rayner, The Observer.

3. Expert teacher's tips: Mastering Persuasive Essays for IGCSE, O-Level and A-Level Exams

Here are expert teaching tips from Professor Rajesh Sharma, an esteemed faculty member at a leading college in Australia.:

Hello, brilliant students! Are you ready to embark on the exciting journey of persuasive essay writing for your IGCSE, O-Level and A-Level exams? While it may seem daunting, fear not! I am here to provide you with detailed guidance on how to overcome the common challenges you might encounter along the way.

1. Understanding the Question:

When you first read the essay prompt provided by exam boards such as AQA, Cambridge, and Edexcel, take a moment to absorb its meaning. Highlight or underline key terms to ensure a solid grasp of the question's requirements. Sometimes, questions may contain multiple components or hidden nuances, so read carefully. If necessary, read the prompt several times to fully comprehend what is being asked of you.

2. Generating Relevant Ideas:

Once you understand the question, it's time to unleash your creativity and generate relevant ideas to support your arguments. Start by brainstorming and jotting down any initial thoughts that come to mind. Consider different perspectives, examples, and evidence related to the topic. Organize your ideas using techniques like mind maps, bullet points, or even a rough outline. This process will help you identify the strongest arguments and create a coherent essay structure.

3. Developing a Strong Thesis Statement:

The thesis statement acts as the guiding force behind your persuasive essay. It should be a clear, concise, and powerful statement that conveys your main argument or position. Take your time to refine your thesis statement, ensuring that it is specific, debatable, and supports the overall theme of your essay. This statement will serve as a compass, keeping your writing focused and purposeful.

4. Structuring the Essay:

To ensure a well-structured persuasive essay, it's crucial to plan your writing before diving into the actual composition. Choose a framework that suits you best, such as the PEEL (Point, Evidence, Explanation, Link) or TEECL (Topic sentence, Explanation, Evidence, Counter-argument, Link) method. These structures provide a systematic approach to presenting your arguments, evidence, and counter-arguments, while maintaining a logical flow throughout the essay. Remember to introduce each point clearly, support it with evidence, and link it back to your thesis statement.

5. Incorporating Relevant Evidence:

The inclusion of relevant and credible evidence strengthens the persuasiveness of your essay. To find appropriate evidence, conduct thorough research using reputable sources such as academic journals, books, and reliable websites. Select evidence that directly supports your arguments and enhances the overall coherence of your essay. Skillfully integrate the evidence into your writing, ensuring it flows smoothly and supports your stance. Remember to provide proper citations and references to acknowledge your sources.

6. Addressing Counter-arguments:

In persuasive writing, acknowledging and addressing counter-arguments demonstrates your ability to engage with different viewpoints and strengthens your own argument. Anticipate potential counter-arguments and thoroughly analyze them. Craft counter-arguments that are logical and well-reasoned, and then promptly refute them using solid evidence and persuasive reasoning. By addressing counter-arguments effectively, you showcase your ability to think critically and present a well-rounded perspective.

Congratulations, remarkable students! You have learned the key strategies to master persuasive essays for your O-Level and A-Level exams. Remember, practice is essential for improvement, so don't shy away from regular writing exercises. Seek feedback from your teachers or mentors to further enhance your skills. Embrace the challenges as opportunities for growth and keep refining your persuasive writing techniques. With dedication and perseverance, you will confidently navigate the complexities of persuasive essays and excel in your exams. Best of luck, and may your words persuade and inspire!

Professor Rajesh Sharma


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