A photograph of a student sitting at a desk in a mathematics class. There is an open notebook and a calculator on the desk.

Source: Math Class, The Gouger, Flickr

You’re sitting in math class on a Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Tulke is trying his best to show you the finer points of algebraic equations when an announcement comes over the PA. There will be an emergency dress rehearsal for the tech crew of the stage production of Annie this Friday evening. Attendance, says the announcer, is mandatory. You happen to be part of the tech crew.

In your mind, you immediately begin rehearsing the discussion with your dad. You want to convince him that even though he’s already driven you to after-school activities twice this week, he should drive you to school and back again Friday night. What’s he going to say? What objections will he likely have? How on earth will you persuade him to do what you need him to do?

A photograph of a father and son talking while working on a car.

Source: Sunday work, Claudio Vandi, Flickr

Are you wondering what this fictitious scenario has to do with our lesson about writing a persuasive text? If you were writing a persuasive text—an essay, an article for the school paper, a letter to the editor—you would be faced with a similar task: to convince somebody of something. For now, though, let’s stick with the situation at hand. You need to find a way of persuading your dad to give you a ride to the dress rehearsal at school.

A photograph of a school play being performed on a stage.

Source: Montgomery High School play, Vileskogen, Flickr

How would you go about trying to convince your dad? Are there any steps you could take even before broaching the subject? You could, of course, tell him how important it is for you to attend the rehearsal from the stage production’s point of view (you being the prop manager and everything). Then again, maybe he’s heard that before.

What objections will he have? Will he say dinner has to be prepared, he has a busy work schedule or prior commitments, the weather forecast is bad, or that you have been out too much lately? What if some of these objections aren’t entirely accurate? What if he doesn’t really have any prior engagements, and it is actually your mom’s turn to make dinner? Wouldn’t it be nice if you had answers at your fingertips, ready to counter his arguments? Would you have a better chance of convincing your dad if you could come up with some logical evidence and a counterargument to his concerns before going to see him?

A photograph of a young woman sitting on a chair and looking at a laptop screen.

Source: Study, Geir Halvorsen, Flickr

Writing a good persuasive text is similar to preparing your case for your dad. Whether you’re writing an essay or talking to your dad about taking you to rehearsal, you will need evidence to help make your case. This lesson will discuss your ability to respond in writing to the views of others by using evidence that differentiates between fact and opinion.

Before we go on, here are a couple points to remember:

A photograph of a female student writing in a notebook.

Source: Study Abroad programme: Historical & contemporary fashion research studies, London College of Fashion, Flickr

Your task as a writer of persuasive texts, then, is to consider the viewpoints of others (anticipate possible counterarguments) while coming up with evidence to support your position and refute the views of others. One way to strengthen your own arguments while discrediting the arguments of others is by presenting evidence.

Remember that any evidence, if it is to stand up in court, so to speak, must be factual. This can be especially important when you are trying to argue against a particular opposing viewpoint. In this case, knowing the difference between fact and opinion can make the difference between persuading your audience or not.