Persuasive Writing: Emotional Appeals
How do writers get readers to think, feel, or act in a certain way when they write persuasively? Often, they appeal to readers' emotions. When writers make an emotional appeal, they try to get at something about which readers feel strongly. For example, Ms. Martinez, the home economics teacher, thinks cooking classes are important. She included this statement in a letter to the editor:
Our job is to prepare students for life beyond school. Computers and computer classes are available to students in many ways. Cooking classes, however, are available to students only while they are in middle school. If we don't offer cooking classes, we are not doing our jobs.
Ms. Martinez knows that most people feel strongly about doing their jobs well. She also knows that many people feel strongly about education and about their local schools. Though the statements are opinions (rather than facts), they have a strong emotional appeal and may persuade some readers to believe as the writer does.
Many people have strong feelings about positve issues such as these:
People may also have strong feelings toward negative issues such as these:
Emotional appeals may tie into readers' strong feelings about positive or negative issues. Read the letter to the editor below. What kind of emotional appeal does the writer make?
In Lora Webb's article (May 23) about the middle school, she mentions that woodworking class will no longer be offered. I took that class in 1988. My teacher, Mr Harker, taught me it was okay that I wasn't an "A" student. He also taught me valuable skills, such as planning ahead and sticking with a job until it's done. During high school, I got a part-time job in a furniture factory. I almost dropped out of high school, but I knew my boss would fire me if I quit school. So I stuck with it. After high school, I got a full-time job at another factory. I improved my skills and am now able to work myself as a cabinetmaker. Without the skills I learned from Mr. Harker in woodworking class, I'm pretty sure I would have become a high school dropout. I know that computers are important in my business, but I wonder if those new computer classes will teach kids any skills that are half as valuable as the ones I learned in woodworking class.
N. Scariffe, Andersonville
Write a letter to the editor in response to Mr. Scariffe's letter. Write in support of his opinion or indicate why you disagree with him. Remember to consider your audience. What kind of emotional appeal might make people agree with you?