Essays that Appeal to Emotion and Ethics
One of my teacher's
has noted that most of the essays we write for school are trying to convince people to do something, or to believe something.
So in a way, this makes persuasive writing one of the easiest. But to get someone to change their mind is rather difficult,
and listing facts generally doesn't work. We can all convince ourselves that statistics are wrong, that facts are misleading,
etc. But it's incredibly difficult to dissuade yourself something when your heart strongly tells you, "That's right."
This kind of
writing is difficult, because emotions are fickle things. Very difficult to fit on a page. Simply stringing words together
(like I'm doing now), can be very informative, but probably won't make me believe I ought to write
an essay, even though that's kinda what I wanna do.
believe something, Cooley warns, "cannot [be done] simply by being emotional." (344). You see this at work in many published
authors' pieces; even though the character is crying hysterically, the words (usually) aren't broken. Adjectives rule in emotional
writing, but with thought. . .too much can make you appear hysterical, too. So the "narrative" voice is best. Remember, you're
trying to persuade someone to follow what you say, not that you're insane. ^__^
Back to the
adjectives. . .word choice is of extreme importance in essays like this. If I'm talking about a serious subject that could
offend people, I don't want to use any offensive words. If I'm addressing students at high school, I'd get different reactions
to calling them classmates, peers, friends, oppressors, dorks, or just people.
In turn, adjectives
play a part in the author's tone, or "voice." Your goal is to be trustworthy, so keeping your style of writing with the topic
is a good idea. Urging your audience to move towards world peace is all fine and well, but don't do it by yelling at people;
your tone clashes (badly) with your message. "Sincerity is the soul of ethical appeal," Cooley notes (345). People
can tell when you're lying, most of the time, and we rarely trust liars.
believing-in-your-statements is generally a good thing. By demonstrating knowledge about your subject, and confirming you
really do know something, the audience can begin to trust you. If you say Naruto is a well liked popular ninja at the beginning
of the story, and a show about personal growth, your audience might go away. Really quickly. To do this, you combine other
forms of reasoning, namely, appealing to reason, too.
a persuasive essay, it's best to remember your goals. Generally speaking, if you're persuading anybody, you want them to do
what you suggest. This works better if they can't find holes in your argument.
So. Get writing.
Maybe you'll inspire someone. (Like me!)