The Purpose of Creative Writing: Persuasion

The third lesson will focus on a different purpose as to why an author writes. The writer may be trying to persuade their readers. Persuasion is the effort to change the opinions, actions, or beliefs of the audience. The use of sources and vocabulary can influence a person to say, for example, consider to stop smoking or start a business. There are different ways to persuade a person which are called modes of persuasion:

  1. Ethos-- Greek word meaning “character”; focuses on the credibility, or trustworthiness, of the author. We tend to believe people we have respect for and has authority. If the author has a good reputation, then it helps the author in his writing.
  2. Pathos--Greek word meaning “suffering or experience”; persuading through affecting the emotional response of the reader. It can cause feelings of happiness, anger, or sadness.
  3. Logos--Greek word meaning “word”; it’s the persuasion using evidence (facts).

Identify the following situations as ethos, pathos, or logos. Explain.

  1. A writer, who is an award-winning chemist, tells you a chemical formula in his book.
  2. The author convinces the reader the dangers of driving without a seatbelt by stating statistics of injuries that have happened because the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.
  3. An author wants a reader to donate money to a child in need. He does this by describing the living conditions of the child and his family.

Did you identify correctly? The first situation above was ethos. The writer, who has experience in Chemistry (he earned an award), was giving the reader a chemical formula. This writer has credibility because of his professional experience. The second situation was logos, or persuasion using evidence. The author was persuading the reader to drive with a seatbelt by telling them how many drivers get hurt when they were not wearing a seatbelt.

The third situation was pathos, or emotional persuasion. The author is trying to “tug at your heartstrings” by describing the poor life of a child and their family. That way, you might donate money. Now, let’s see an example using one of the modes of persuasion.

I will write two paragraphs using one of the modes of persuasion (I chose pathos ). I am briefly writing about the impact of youth gang violence. This will give an idea of how one of these modes can be used in everyday writing. Hopefully, this will ease your mind on writing using persuasion.

"When I was six years old, I had an older cousin named Derrick. Derrick was a straight-A student, played basketball with his neighborhood friends, and always did what his parents (my aunt and uncle) asked him to do. Everyone loved him; I know I did. I would follow him everywhere like a puppy. I would listen to his advice as if he was a sage. He taught me how to play basketball, and said that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Despite our 6 year difference, he never felt ashamed to hang out with me. That all changed when he started hanging out the wrong crowd.

He went from all A’s to D’s and F’s. He would disobey his parents, start hanging out late at night, and other things I don’t want to talk about. Derrick wasn't the same Derrick I used to hang out with. One Thursday night, my mom received a phone call from my aunt. My mom told me that Derrick was in the hospital. It turned out that Derrick joined a gang and had been beaten up by an enemy gang. The number of gang-related violence, including what happened to Derrick. That is one of the reasons why gangs should not exist and more should be done to prevent tragedies such as this.”

Pathos was used in the paragraphs above through the experience of gang violence that impacted the author. The story gives an emotional and personal introduction this way and a good way to transition to persuading the reader why gangs should not exist and how to stop tragedies such as Derrick‘s.

Writing Prompt:

Write a one-page paper on any desired subject. You must use one of the modes of persuasion in the paper.