Argue, persuade, advise

This page applies to all ‘argue, persuade, advise’ writing activities.  You have to judge how outspoken you need to be: for instance, in a newspaper article, advising parents how to treat their children, you would need to be controlled, reasonable and convincing.  Contrast this with an article in the school magazine protesting against healthy meals in schools, where you might be more vibrantly persuasive!

When considering how to tackle any ‘argue persuade advise’ question, look at whether any of the following are appropriate for your particular task:

  • Make an impact with your opening statement (always recommended).

  • Ask your readers/listeners rhetorical questions.  Give them the answers to your questions – you can imply these as well as being explicit.

  • Use: ‘I’, ‘we’, ‘you’.

  • Use emotive language e.g. appeals to feelings and moral standpoints such as guilt, meanness, sense of justice etc
  • Use triples.

  • Use repetition of sentence beginnings (by the way, this is called anaphora).

  • Make the occasional powerful statement in a short sentence, a short paragraph – or even, perhaps, a non-sentence.

  • Give examples, facts.

  • Use a quote if possible.

  • Try a hypothetical argument to support your reasoning!

  • Consider the opposing view and destroy it (ruthlessly).

  • Use a relevant comparison (this is called an analogy)  to support your point of view.

  • Show the structure of your argument with useful ‘signposts’ (aka ‘topic sentences’).

  • Address all aspects of the question.

  • Have fun and be extrovert!

Use the above bullet points as a check-list in your next piece of ‘argue, persuade, advise’ writing. Here are some past questions.  To revise, I suggest you try one or two, using as many of the above techniques as possible:

  1. ‘There’s no point making the effort and taking the risk of travelling the world, disturbing people and animals as you go, when you can see it all on TV or the internet.’  Write a magazine article which persuades young people either to travel or stay at home.
  2. A recent report states: ‘Homelessness in the UK is a crisis that is destroying the lives of people, especially young people.’  Write an article for your school or college newspaper persuading young people to support charities which help the homeless.
  3. It has been said that: ‘People who save lives or help improve the lives of others are the true role models of today.’   Write an article for a newspaper in which you argue your view about what makes a good role model.
  4. ‘Life is too easy for young people today. They lack challenges and don’t have to fight for anything.’   Write an article for a magazine of your choice which persuades your readers that this statement is either right or wrong.
  5. Many people believe that it is our duty to cut back on our use of the world’s resources, and that we must invest in greener forms of energy for the future – whatever the cost.  Write an article for an environmental website which argues for or against this idea.
  6. Your school or college is inviting entries for a writing competition, the topic is “Dangerous sports,  activities and pastimes are selfish, often put others at risk and should be discouraged.” Write your entry arguing for or against this view.
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