Essay 3 Prewriting
Persuasion involves taking a clear position on a controversial subject -- not just a shocking one, but rather something that rational people can and do disagree about. You will presenting your best case for your position, and address good arguments against your position.
This means presenting evidence.
In this class, I do not expect you to cite government studies, or academic articles, or scientific reports. Instead, I ask you to chiefly to refer to your own experience. You will SHOW, but no longer chiefly for the purpose of encouraging me to feel your emotions; instead, you will SHOW in order to tip an uncommitted reader over to your side.
Your task is not to belittle or insult "the other side." If you honestly cannot think of a reason why any rational human being would differ from your opinion, I suggest you choose another topic. You might be too close to this one.
Avoid peppering an invisible opponent with questions you don't plan to answer. Avoid whining. It's very easy to be AGAINST something... it's much more challenging (and more intellectually valuable) to argue FOR something.
- Avoid trying to make your opinion seem stronger by distorting the other side, either through exaggeration ("Animal rights groups would rather millions of people from cancer than have one animal die during a scientific experiment") or by using unflattering labels ("nicotine addicts who oppose my right to breathe fresh air..." "reactionary tea-baggers whose pathetic world-view is threatened by Obama's heroic economic vision..." ).
- Making "the other side" look evil or stupid may fool people who don't know what you are talking about, but people who do know something about the subject can (and will) write a letter to the editor correcting your misrepresentations.
Write for something specific (not just against something)
Avoid simply listing complaints, or attacking a silent opponent with a series of aggressive questions that you have no intention of researching.
Why is the salad bar so expensive this year? For the past several years, the cost of a large salad has gone up 10 cents each fall. This year, it jumped almost a dollar. Is a salad really worth $3? For just a little more, I could get a hot meal. Why are our food prices so unfair?Whine, whine, whine! Anybody can churn out a list of complaints against topic X. It's another thing entirely to come up with a solution, and then make a public statement in its favor.
So, instead of just whining about the high price of a salad, I might instead contact the dining services, and actually ask why the price went up. I might hear the manager tell me that customers had frequently requested more chicken salad and other expensive meat dishes. My editorial becomes an opportunity to inform, as I explain the reason for the price increase, and make a sensible suggestion -- $2.00 greens-only option.