BlogEnglishHow to Write a Persuasive Writing Piece for Module C: The Craft of Writing

How to Write a Persuasive Writing Piece for Module C: The Craft of Writing

One of the new features of Module C: Craft of Writing is the possibility that you will have to demonstrate your understanding of your texts as a HSC persuasive writing piece.

By engaging with your prescribed texts, you will learn rhetoric — that is, the art of the argument.

This might take the form of imitating rhetorical styles found in your texts, or by taking a particular stance in the narrative world of them, if you’re doing fiction.

If you’re feeling unsure about how you may want to do this, keep reading through this guide!

Step 1: Identify the overall argument of a piece
Step 2: Identify the types of arguments being made
Step 3: Identify persuasive techniques
Step 4: Write out your structure
Step 5: Show your engagement through your arguments
Step 6: Analyse your own work

How to Pick Apart an Argument

This module requires you to write a HSC persuasive piece based on an understanding of your text. However, this also means that you have to know how the parts of an argument work!

One way of learning this is by deconstructing an argument, which means taking it apart and seeing how it works.

If you’re prescribed a non-fiction text for study, start analysing how it works.

Step 1: Identify the overall argument of a piece

When examining a piece of persuasive writing, you need to be able to locate what its central argument is. This is almost always located in the opening of a persuasive writing piece. 

While there may be a variety of arguments made within it, they will all be being used to prove a central point — like the thesis of one of your own essays. 

Once you’ve done this, you can start analysing how the smaller points are made to advance the main argument.

Remember, the smaller points will be encapsulated by the main point.

For instance, in George Orwell’s ‘Politics and the English Language,’ which is a prescribed non-fiction text, he opens by making the main argument that the English language is being regularly misused, but it can be solved.

He then discusses the multiple ways it is being misused, and how these problems can be fixed, which are the smaller points. 

Step 2: Identify the types of arguments being made

A classical way of considering arguments is by judging whether they target the logical reasoning of the audience, the emotional reasoning of the audience, or the moral reasoning of the audience.

These are called emotional, rational, and moral arguments.

A rational argument is one that is decided on the basis of logic, an emotional argument targets how people feel, while a moral argument appeals to people’s sense of right and wrong.

For instance, an idea in support of the development of a new park in a city, to use an example, could be made during one of these:

  • Emotional: Our city is lonely and desolate, and the park could improve this
  • Rational: From these statistics, we can see that a park has long-term benefits which far exceed the short-term costs
  • Moral: We must do the just thing and help the city be more accessible to families

While these arguments are basic, they show the three basic kinds of arguments.

Step 3: Identify persuasive techniques

Now, read the piece you are using as an example of persuasive writing.

Break it down, and start identifying persuasive techniques and adding them into TEE tables. If you’re not sure how to do this, read our guide on TEE tables here.  

Here’s an example of how to use a TEE table, using George Orwell’s 1984:

TechniqueExampleEffect
Humour"….one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them.”
Here, Orwell describes the experience of watching poor political writing being read in order to give a humorous image to the kind of person who uses the kind of language he is describing, which works to engage the reader in his argument.

To fill out your TEE table, you will need to have some knowledge of persuasive techniques.

Some of the most common persuasive techniques you could identify include: 

  • Pre-emptive Strike: Identifying potential counter arguments and debunking them within the writing
  • High Modality Language: Strong definitive words like ‘must,’ ‘certainly,’ and ‘definitely,’ rather than ‘might,’ ‘perhaps,’ and ’could’
  • Inclusive Language: Language which uses inclusive pronouns, such as ‘we’ and ‘our’
  • Emotive Language: Language which seeks to elicit an emotion

In the next half, we’re going to focus on how to apply this analysis you’ve just completed.

How to Apply Your Analysis

Step 4: Write out your structure

Before you begin applying your deconstruction of an argument, outline your arguments.

While you may have done this in previous years, you will need to also outline how they are connected, and what kind of arguments you will use.

A persuasive piece should have three main points for three main body paragraphs, which, if possible, build upon one another.

For instance, the second body paragraph may extend upon ideas from the conclusion of the first paragraph. This allows your piece to have flow and generate cohesive ideas which don’t reiterate the same points but rather build on them. 

Step 5: Show your engagement through your arguments

Once you have planned, you are ready to start writing!

But remember, part of this unit includes showing your engagement with the texts.

As you go through your arguments, you need to keep in mind that you will need to be able to explain your arguments and the way they are structured, with a view to how it’s reflected in your texts.

This could mean using similar techniques your authors do, such as using similar humour, or making a pre-emptive strike for the same argumentative purpose as your author.  

This ultimately demonstrates that you have identified and understand the creative decisions of your author by implementing these techniques in your own piece of writing.

Step 6: Analyse your own work

One way to break down your writing and be able to look at it closely is to create TEE tables discussing how your writing functions.

While this may seem tedious, you do need to be able to reflect on your own writing, so this is a great space to go.

Persuasive writing isn’t easy, but hopefully this guide has given you some ideas.

Remember, don’t be afraid to experiment and make mistakes in your first attempts at writing in what may be an unfamiliar form.

The trick is to practise early on, and get efficient at building arguments.

Looking for some extra help with HSC English?

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Cameron Croese completed his HSC in 2013, earning first place in his cohort in Advanced English, Extension English 1, and Extension English 2. Privately tutoring throughout his university career as an English and Education student, he enjoys helping his students at Art of Smart understand, write well on, and enjoy their texts, as well as assisting with other aspects of school life. He is currently working on his Advanced Graduate Diploma in English and Theatre Studies.

 

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