How to Convince the World You’re Right (Writing Persuasively)
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Your writing can have MASSIVE influence in other people’s lives! Creating compelling writing that challenges people is a challenge in itself – but you can do it with the right preparation. In this episode of the Writing Momentum podcast, Chris and Gena talk about the three components every writer must consider when writing an article or book designed to persuade.
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Episode 31 Transcription:
[00:00:13].770] - Chris Hello, and welcome to the the Writing Momentum podcast. I'm Christopher Maselli, and this is my wife, Gena. How's it going, Gena? [00:00:20].460] - Gena I'm doing great today. Chris. We are enjoying cooler weather, which sounds crazy because it's summertime, but where we live, we are headed towards fall already. [00:00:33].270] - Chris Yeah, we're in northern Arizona, so we get what it's called the monsoon season, where it will storm, rain and storm every day for about six weeks. [00:00:42].980] - Gena Six to eight weeks, it just storms, but then that's about all the rain we really get for the rest of the year. But those bring in a lot of cooler temperatures. So we are loving it. [00:00:53].880] - Chris Sure do. [00:00:54].580] - Gena So beautiful. [00:00:55].350] - Chris Well, today we are talking about how when you're writing, there are times you want to have influence on others. Right. We're hoping that what we write can change lives, and we're hoping that we can write things that challenges others, challenge with their preconceived notions, challenges, maybe their beliefs. Sometimes it challenges their way to think things differently than they thought before. And when you do that, usually it doesn't come naturally to most of us. Right. We have to actually think, how am I going to write this in such a way that someone who doesn't normally think about this the way I'm suggesting, that they might cause them to think a little differently. Right? [00:01:38].580] - Gena Exactly. [00:01:39].080] - Chris And so that is what we're going to talk about today, is how can we do that? And when it comes down to it, there are three components that each writer must consider when writing an article or a book, and they want to persuade. There are these three components. Aren't these like classical components? [00:01:56].460] - Gena These are this is classical. This goes all the way back to Aristotle. He's the first one that wrote about that. In fact, he has a very short book. You can find it on the internet called Rhetoric. And when we hear the word rhetoric in our day and time, a lot of times we think of it as somebody who's kind of beating their fist against something. They've got kind of a soapbox that they've climbed up on and they're just spouting their beliefs. But the classical term of rhetoric, like Chris said, goes all the way back to Aristotle, goes back to the Greeks. And it is the idea of persuading people. Persuading people, that your point of view and what you have to say is valid, and that they would want to take what you're saying to heart, that it would in some way change the way they think or change somehow they do things. And so it would be something that they can apply to their life. And we see this in a lot of nonfiction writing today. We see it in blogs where it's like four points to this or five points to do that, or five ways to do this. [00:03:02].960] - Gena It's in nonfiction with self help books. How to overcome this, how to overcome anxiety, how to overcome depression, how to overcome a lack of sales in your business, how to overcome. You're helping people. You're helping teach them a system or a way of thinking about something. So we see this a lot and we don't really think about it all the time. We don't really stop to think about what we're doing. But we are trying to convince people that what we are saying has merit. [00:03:36].460] - Chris So often when I hear the word persuade, I think that this is like a you might write this if you're writing a strong theological piece or strong political piece, right. You're trying to persuade people to come to the other side. But that's not really always the case because some of the things you just mentioned are very small persuasions, right? Four ways to do something better. That's not even much of a persuasion, but I guess it is. You're trying to get people to think about things differently. [00:04:07].570] - Gena Think about things differently. Some way to apply what you're teaching them so that they can make their life better or in some way. [00:04:15].360] - Chris It just floors me that some of these things have been around so long. They tend to think of writing like this, as a modern concept, writing persuasion. And to hear that it comes from Aristotle. Aristotle is the guy who also wrote all about the free act structure in fiction, right? And we tend to forget about that. We think this is a modern invention and it's not. It goes way back. [00:04:37].710] - Gena So we're going to break this down. Today there are three different areas and three different elements that you want to include. If you're trying to persuade people that what you have to say is valid in almost everything that I write. I will try to bring this in. I will try to bring each of these elements in. Now, sometimes you might be writing something so small that you don't have room for all three of them. But especially if you're doing a book, I would really strongly encourage you to really think about these elements and how you can bring them in. Because here's the other thing that we want to point out, and we're going to get into what those elements are. But people think and process differently. And so when you are speaking to different types of people, you may have to persuade them or meet them in a different way. So with one person who's very logic based, you might need to meet them with facts and figures. With someone who is more emotive, someone who is more empathetic, you may have to meet them on more of an emotional level. So convincing people that your position has validity, it takes coming at these different ways. [00:06:02].030] - Gena And so, again, we say this in nonfiction. I try to teach people that when you're thinking about nonfiction, it's not always just about what you have to say. It's what your reader needs to hear. It is what your reader needs to hear. And so how you speak to them is going to change how they perceive what you have said and whether they can take it in. [00:06:29].720] - Chris Okay, so now you said there's three ways to speak to them that we're going to cover here. So what are those? One at a time. [00:06:38].230] - Gena Get ready for the first one. It's pathos. Pathos is an appeal to emotion. Appeal to emotion. So this is stories, metaphors, strong verbs, vivid descriptions. That's what you're going to use in order to evoke emotion in your reader. And I've heard people question, do you really want our story is really important. It feels like fluff. But there are people, there are readers that are going to gravitate or they're going to latch onto your stories before they latch onto your lesson. [00:07:15].550] - Chris So in a nonfiction book, you might start off a chapter not getting into all the points you're trying to make, but rather by telling a story that grabs people's emotions and makes them identify with what you're talking about. [00:07:29].510] - Gena Exactly. [00:07:29].990] - Chris And that is going to appeal to the motion to where they will then open up and listen to what you have to say. [00:07:36].120] - Gena Yes. It really helps bring those barriers down and helps them open their heart to what you have to say. So yes, and one thing that's important is that doesn't always have to be your personal story. It can be your personal story. If you've had some kind of transformation, maybe you've become a really good salesperson or maybe a really good marketer, or you've become someone who's developed in your self confidence. It can be your personal story, but it can also be stories of famous people that people would identify with. It can be stories of other people who have put what you're saying into practice. It can also be people who have dealt with the same challenges that you've dealt with. [00:08:16].780] - Chris Probably the thicker the book is, the more you need to have more stories because it can't be all about you. So you're going to bring in a lot of different people. That also kind of proves it right, that's that social validity to what you're talking about. To see that so many other people put these principles into practice and they work, that makes it seem like, okay, I think that this may have validity. [00:08:37].220] - Gena Yes. So our next one is ethos. [00:08:40].750] - Chris Ethos? [00:08:41].310] - Gena Ethos is an appeal to credibility. This is where you as a writer are going to share your background, your experiences, your credentials. This is where you're going to be able to say, well, when I was. [00:08:54].850] - Chris Yeah, this might usually show up near the beginning of a book because you want to establish your credentials right away. Like, why should you talk about this right now? In an article, maybe not so much. Maybe you'd wait until the point comes along that you want to tie your credentials too. But either you way can even do. [00:09:12].470] - Gena That as a writer of an article, you may not need to be in that article at all, but where you need to bring in the credibility of your sources. So if you're bringing in your sources, you might want to say the editor of this magazine says this or this something else, this person. And maybe even as you share their story, you're also giving their credibility of why what they have to say is important. [00:09:41].090] - Chris So it's not necessarily personal credibility, it's just credibility for the piece. Depending on what you're talking about, who you're talking about, there may be things that you have to support it and you're bringing in those things. It could even be the credibility of a company. Right? It would have to be a person. [00:09:56].850] - Gena Yes, I would say that as well. Whoever you're writing for that market, that reader needs to believe that you have a right to speak into their lives. [00:10:07].060] - Chris Ethos. Ethos. [00:10:08].680] - Gena The last one is logos and this is an appeal to logic. So this is where those facts and figures, those quotes, there's reasoning, statistics, studies, all of things like that and even defining what you mean, this is something that is again a very classical thing. But defining your terms. If you are writing a book or an article about blended families, you want to define what you mean by blended family. If you are talking about something with extended family, you want to define what does that mean by extended family? Are you talking about people who live in your home with you? Are you talking about just family members who are in your family, your bloodline, but they don't necessarily live with you? You want to define those terms because. [00:10:57].350] - Chris You can't just assume that the reader is coming at this from the same standpoint with the same experience that you have. [00:11:04].260] - Gena Exactly. [00:11:04].550] - Chris Because when you say like extended family, that may mean something completely different to someone who grew up somewhere else, lived in different conditions and what it means to you. [00:11:15].950] - Gena Exactly. Even things like financial responsibility, you use that term like financial responsibility. What does that mean? [00:11:25].320] - Chris I don't know what that means. [00:11:27].310] - Gena That could mean something completely different to different people. So for your audience, for your reader, you want to define what you mean. But also going back to the quotes, the figures, the studies, the statistics, those kinds of things, feel free to bring those things in. Depending on your audience, you are going to have people who are going to gravitate to that, they're going to love those charts, they're going to love the logical elements that you bring to your piece. They're going to really gravitate to those and it's going to give your work and it's going to ground your work really, and make people be able to say, okay, I can trust this person because I know what they're talking about, because they're bringing this in. And you can see how when you bring all three of these together, when you bring the paypost, the ethos, and the logos together, when you're bringing in that appeal to emotion, where people say, okay, that person understands my situation. And then you bring in the ethos and you say, oh, that person is very credible, or the sources that they're citing are credible. And you do want to make sure if you're writing for something, that you are citing credible sources from organizations that are in that field, or government organizations that have studies on things like that, or academic areas, you want to make sure that your sources are credible as well. [00:12:59].720] - Gena But you bring that in and then you bring in that appeal to that logos, that appeal to logic with some statistics and studies and that kind of thing, all of a sudden you've got this very well rounded piece that really does make someone believe, gosh, I'm going to stand up and take notice of what this person is saying. [00:13:19].090] - Chris Right? It's persuasive, right? What's interesting about this is as you're going through these, we're talking about articles and books, but really each one of these is also usually an element of an advertisement, right? If you do any kind of advertising writing, if you're doing something longer, like a letter, of course you could include all three, right? Anytime. For those of you who write for nonprofits and write donor letters or that sort of thing, you might appeal to each one of these. But for those who are even just writing a small advertisement, maybe a one paragraph advertisement about a book or about something else, you want to see if you can include at least one of these in that advertisement because that's what helps make the sale, right? So when you watch a commercial next time, ask yourself, is this commercial, is it appealing to my emotion, credibility or logic? Is it pathos, ethos or logos? And every commercial pretty much has one. [00:14:16].710] - Gena Of those in it, doesn't they have one of those. Think about your car commercials. It starts off with this family trying. [00:14:22].620] - Chris To it could be any of these. The car commercial might be an emotional right. It might just have music and you see people having a good time and you're like, oh, I want to have a good time like that. It's appealing to my beautiful site. It could be one of those car commercials where they talk about how long the company has been around and how great they make those vehicles, right? That's the appeal to credibility. Or it could be the fact that, you know what, our cars have fewer crashes than other cars, right, that's getting into test by such and such purchase our vehicle, right? Yeah. Any of those things are logos. [00:15:04].710] - Gena It would even say the money side of it by the end of this month and save $3,000 off of the sticker price. That is an appeal to logic. You're going to sign the check, right? So that's what we're talking about today. We hope to take some time to, like Chris said, watch those commercials. If you still watch commercials, watch commercials. Flip through magazines. Look at billboards. If you're in a doctor's office, flip through the magazines that are sitting there and look for these elements the appeal to emotion, the appeal to credibility, and the appeal to logic. Look at those three elements and see where you see them. And then look at how you can bring those if you're a nonfiction writer, look at how you can bring those into your writing. [00:15:52].510] - Chris Yeah. So your assignment this week is to look at the latest blog you've written or look at the latest article you've written, or look at that book you're writing and ask yourself, are you including pathos, ethos, and logos into that piece? All right, well, thank you for joining us. We always enjoy when you get together with us. We ask that you please just take a moment to subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss any future podcast. Share it with someone who's not heard before, and let's get the word out there. [00:16:20].120] - Gena Well, and I'll just add this too. If you're a writer and you're looking to join a writing community, please join us at Writing Moments. www.writingmoments.com. We'd love to have you there. It's a beautiful community that's coming together where we are supporting one another. We spend a little bit of time learning and doing training, just like what we talked about here, but then we also really support one another, and we're learning about each other's projects, and we. [00:16:52].220] - Chris Spend time writing together. [00:16:53].280] - Gena We work on our individual, and then we write together. And so we are really seeing some momentum on our projects. [00:17:00].730] - Chris That's at writingmoments.com. So please join us. We appreciate you guys. You're the best. And until next time, remember that together we have Writing Momentum.
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