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Persuasive Devices in Writing: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:22 Three Parts
  • 2:18 Devices
  • 3:46 Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bryanna Licciardi

Bryanna has received both her BA in English and MFA in Creative Writing. She has been a writing tutor for over six years.

Also known as rhetoric, persuasive writing is something you may do without even realizing! This lesson will break down its basic components and help you to excel in the art of persuasion.

Persuasive Writing Defined

Persuasive writing is the presentation of reasons and ideas in a way that will influence your audience. To convince an audience of an idea or point of view, you, the writer, must first understand how persuasion in writing works. Persuasive writing can be broken into three basic divisions: ethos, logos, and pathos.

Three Parts of Persuasive Writing

Ethos can be defined as ethics, or morality. This method in writing is used to convince the audience of your goodwill or good moral character. In order to find you credible, the audience first needs to determine whether or not you have good intentions and/or a strong understanding of the topic. It is your job as the writer to present yourself as trustworthy.

Examples:

  • 'Many of you know me. I am your neighbor and a long-standing resident of this community. You know me and know how much I care about our community's development.'
  • 'As a biology teacher of twenty years, my experience gives me keen insight into this issue.'

Another method for persuading an audience is logos, or logic. This method uses rationality and reason to convince the audience of your point of view. Think facts and evidence that are hard to dispute.

Examples:

  • 'In the thousands of years humans have existed, there has never been recorded evidence of a flying pig. Therefore, it stands to reason pigs cannot fly.'
  • 'If you know jumping off of a cliff would most likely kill you, you probably wouldn't make the jump. What makes drunk driving any different?'

The third method in persuasive writing is pathos, or an appeal to the audience's emotions. This is the opposite of logos because it is an argument without the use of reason. Many consider anger, fear, and empathy to be strong factors in influencing audiences, making this method of argumentation a worthy one.

Examples:

  • 'Hundreds of thousands of animals are being tortured and killed every year, and for what? So that we can modernize our beauty products and overstock our grocery stores?'
  • 'How many homeless people have you passed on the street this week? Can you imagine what it must feel like to sleep in an alley? To go to bed hungry and cold every night? We need to stop ignoring this issue and start helping, because these people are the victims--not the enemy.'

Devices of Persuasive Writing

After you understand these three methods, it is also important to understand basic devices you can use to emphasize any argument. Some powerful literary devices are metaphor, simile, repetition, and parallelism.

A metaphor is a direct comparison made between two different objects, ideas, or places without using such linking words as 'like' or 'as.' This can be a powerful way to connect or bridge an object to an idea, making the comparison more symbolic.

Example:

  • 'Your hands are weapons. It is up to you whether you use them to protect or destroy.'

A phrase that uses 'like' or 'as' to make a comparison is called a simile. This is used to make a comparison more visual.

Example:

  • 'We must be like the lion--stealthy and patient.'

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