The Persuasive Letter

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Assignment Prompt

For this assignment, you will be writing a letter compelling a friend or family member to change either a behavior or a belief with which you disagree. Choose your own topic, but for example, this letter could petition an enthusiastic neighbor to scale down his blinding Christmas decorations, an immature cousin to take a gap year between high school and college, a grandparent to vote to pass the new school district budget, a friend to stop drinking, or a spouse to reconcile with an estranged sibling. Because the letter will be written to an individual of your choosing, you must tailor your language and logic to the person to whom you are writing. 


Assignment-Specific Requirements:

Length: This assignment should be at least 750 words. 

Thesis: Underline your thesis statement or the main claim of your letter.

Sources Needed: None required. Cite if used, following MLA guidelines

Page Formatting: Use MLA guidelines.  Also add an opening salutation (e.g. Dear Sarah, or Hello, Jon.), and a closing salutation & signature (Best regards, Tom or Sincerely, Liza)


MLA Requirements: See Formatting your Essay: MLA 8th Edition


Rhetorical Mode

The goal of persuasive writing is to get a reader (your audience) to agree with your point of view. Persuasive writing blends facts and emotion to convince the reader that the writer is right. This genre relies on opinion and emotion to a greater extent than argumentative writing, but in moving a reader, the successful persuasive letter also deploys logically sound argumentation and quite often researched support and fact. 


Rhetorical Considerations





The purpose of drafting a persuasive letter is to move your reader to agree with your point of view. Persuasion is single-minded; it is based on a conviction that a particular way of thinking or acting is the only way to go; all of the energy of the letter works toward this end. As a writer, you will present one side–your side. While an opposing pointshould be mentioned, it is only mentioned to be refuted or dismissed in the service of your position.  




Persuasive writing is almost always written with a particular audience in mind.  For this piece of writing, you will direct your persuasive letter to one person. Thus, your audience is not imagined, but rather very real, and that person and their characteristics will inform many of the choices you make as a writer. The persuasive letter requires constant negotiation with another person’s mind. At every phase of the writing process, as you prewrite, draft, and revise, this assignment will ask you to imagine and anticipate how your reader feels, responds, and thinks.   




This piece of writing will be presented using a letter format.  Thus, while you still need an MLAstyle heading to format your work for submission, you will address your letter directly to your reader with a formal letter salutation. 

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Title: The Persuasive Letter

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