Writing persuasion, like most other kinds of writing, involves prewriting (finding a topic, gathering information and ideas, and planning), writing a first draft, and postwriting (revising and proofreading).
Choosing a Proposition
You would not try to persuade your classmates that basic skills in language and mathematics are valuable; everyone already agrees with that idea. However, you might try to persuade your classmates that music and art are among the basics, for not everyone agrees with that idea; some people view music and art as frills.
The point that you are trying to make – which is called the proposition - must not be something that is already taken for granted. It must also be specific, not general.
The following propositions could not be used in persuasive writing, either because everyone – or almost everyone – agrees with them, or because they are too general:
• Use of seatbelts cuts down the number of fatalities in automobile crashes.
• Students who misbehave in school should be disciplined.
• Schools should give students the knowledge and skills needed to survive in America .
• Watching professional football on television is one of the favorite pastimes of many Americans.
• Computers are useful.
But the following statements might serve as propositions because they make claims that are not generally accepted and because they are specific.
1. The city should pass a seatbelt law, requiring everyone in an automobile to wear belts, and should levy a large fine against anyone caught violating the law.
2. Students who in any way destroy school property should be required to do work at the school to make up for the damage they have done.
3. Since knowledge about economics and money management is essential for survival in our society, all students in this school should be required to take two courses: economics and personal money management.
• During the season, the television networks devote far too much time to professional football.
• “Computer literacy” should be a statewide requirernent for high school graduation.
Be ready to explain why you think each of the following propositions either would or would not serve as a good basis for a persuasive paper.
• More and more women are assuming important roles in local, state, and national governments.
• All students in this school should be required to develop skill in one of the arts: painting, sculpture, music, creative writing, or drama.