Thursday, July 28, 2011

Persuasive Writing by DL Larson

Persusasive writing can be filled with statistics, but many readers have become skeptical, knowing stats can be manipulated and the message muddled. Research is another avenue used in persuasive writing, but it too can be twisted with half truths and unreliable sources. Storytelling, a human interest tidbit may well be the way to go when wanting to make a point.

The following story is an old one, remade and shortened, and it delivers a point of view the reader may or may not agree with, but the important part is it compells the reader to absorb the persuasive message.

The story:
A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. She considered herself a liberal and in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs to redistribute the wealth in the country. She was rather upset her father held a different view. She had participated in class discussions and listened to professors explain their reasonings of fair distribution regarding the needs of the people.

One day she challenged her father on his opposition to higher taxes and more government programs. He in turn asked how her classes were going. Thinking he was trying to change the subject she quite adamently told him she was working hard and holding a 4.0 GPA. It was tough keeping her grades up with such a heavy course load. She studied every day and spent very little time partying like other people she knew. She didn't have time for a boyfriend, and had only made a small group of friends who worked as hard as she did.

Her father nodded in understanding and asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing in school?"

"She's barely getting by. She takes only easy classes, never studies and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. But she is popular and thinks college is a blast. She's always invited to these great parties and then misses class because she stays out so late."

The father then said, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct 1.0 of your GPA and give it to Audrey. Then you will both have a 3.0 GPA. That would be a generous and equal distribution to someone who sounds as if they could use a little help."

The daughter, visibly upset replied, "That's crazy! And so unfair! I've worked hard for my grades. I've invested a lot to time and effort to keep my GPA. Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She's playing while I've worked my tail off."

The father smiled a bit and said gently, "Welcome to the conservative side of thinking!"

Persuasion techniques are valuable tools every writer needs. Share with us on how you have manipulated a plot with persuasive methods.

Til next time ~

DL Larson


Debra St. John said...

Interesting way of looking at things.

Thanks for the post.

Unknown said...

I like that.

Deb Larson said...

Deb ~ there's always gotta be an angle! :)
Madison ~ pretty persuasive, heh? Thanks for stopping by today!

DL Larson

Anonymous said...

that is so ridiculous - for starters the real world is, real in that it is complex. Not this myopically simple. No wonder your country is in such a financial mess. It is a worry.

Deb Larson said...

I agree whole-heartedly the "real" world is complex. My illustration is simple to prove a point, nothing more. In fact, by your reply, I must have hit a nerve with my simplistic story. In my country, it is just fine to disagree.
DL Larson

@Ruby_Barnes said...

That's an interesting parable. If the student had true socialist principles then she would agree, as long as all other students were bound by the same rule.
I've not consciously used persuasion to manipulate a plot, but some of my characters influence others with persuasive methods. Robert Cialdini's 'Influence - the Psychology of Persuasion' breaks down the methods of influence that folk use and are subject to. Very interesting stuff. Much of our indie author marketing is built upon these principles. For example, the rule of reciprocation is widely used in Twitter, reviews etc. The principle of social proof is applied by authors that use viral marketing. Successful marketers use Cialdini's principles of persuasion, consciously or subconsciously. No, I'm not on a commission for Cialdini, just that your post rang a bell and had me running to my bookcase.
Cheers, Ruby.