Strategies for Writing Convincing Essays Help (page 4)

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Updated on Sep 7, 2011

Don't Offend

If you want to successfully persuade your audience, don't offend them. Students often don't realize that something they've written may be offensive—but that's usually because they have a very specific reader in mind. That is, they imagine a general reader who has a lot more in common with them than a true general reader might. This kind of thinking can produce statements such as:

All people who claim to believe in the existence of alien life forms are simply unable to distinguish between fact and opinion.

Besides being an absolute (suggesting that all people who claim to believe in alien life forms can't distinguish between fact and opinion), this claim is insulting to those who believe that some kind of alien life does exist on other planets. You may believe that the existence of extraterrestrial life is an invalid theory, but many people (including some very highly regarded scientists) do not. If your reader happens to believe that we are not alone in the universe, he or she probably won't take your arguments seriously (no matter how strong they might be), because he or she has been offended. Even if your audience is made up of those who share your opinions, they're likely to bristle at your insensitivity, and as a result, you'll lose credibility in their eyes as well.

In Short

Writers use many strategies to make their essay more convincing. They provide specific details to make ideas more concrete, they establish credibility and acknowledge counterarguments, they don't include assertions they can't support, they avoid absolutes, and they take care not to offend their audience.

Exercises for this concept can be found at Strategies for Writing Convincing Essays Practice.

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