Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing


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10.1 The Purpose of Persuasion

Drawing on his long experience as a leading copywriter, Lindsay Camp shows how it's done-whether the 'end product' is a glossy magazine ad , a new business proposal , a page for the company website , or just a hasty email to your boss. You'll learn at least as much from how he writes as from what he writes about-and that's saying a great deal.

You'll learn at least as much from how he writes as from what he writes about - and that's saying a great deal. I hope it's read by every marketing manager, sales director, customer relations officer and chief executive in the land. Behind that charming exterior lies the revolutionary thought that words can change people, organisations and the world.

Whatever next? He has also-uniquely-been nominated twice in one year for the silver award in this category. Can I Change Your Mind? Lindsay Camp. As flat as … a pancake. As green as … grass. Well done, Lindsay, three out of three. And it can only do that if there is something fresh or unexpected about it. They made me smile.

John and Mary had never met.

Chapter Persuasion – Writing for Success 1st Canadian Edition

They were like two humming-birds who had also never met. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs. I love that last one especially. But not like a drain. A long time ago — in the 80s, I suspect — somebody, somewhere had a moment of insight. For example, nobody wants accountancy software; but they do want and urgently need a solution to the problem of how to unscramble their business finances.

Perhaps for a year or two, it seemed fresh. But soon, absolutely everybody was at it. Need a new secretary? Get on the phone to the recruitment solutions experts. Blocked loo?

The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing

Call drainage solutions on this number. Negative energy in your bedroom? Lucky you know that Feng Shui solutions outfit. No book about how to be a better writer can ignore it; but style is slippery, amorphous stuff. When I write, I never consciously think about style.

10.2 The Structure of a Persuasive Essay

Pause for sarcastic gibes to the effect that maybe I should give it a try. Who is this person whose thoughts, feelings or actions I want to influence?

6 Phrases That Instantly Persuade People

Is she knowledgeable about the subject? Sceptical, or even hostile? Does she have entrenched views? Is she reading because she needs to or because she wants to? Is she standing on a railway platform? Is she six years old?

Equally, my understanding of the reader will very largely dictate the way I write. Whatever they are writing about, and whoever the reader may be, they have a voice that is distinctive and highly recognisable. Hope it helps. I would unhesitatingly recommend him to anyone. Because, just like any other component of persuasive writing, they will rarely be taken entirely at face value. Who is this person, the reader may ask herself, whose views are supposed to influence me?


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Go ahead, use appropriate testimonials in your persuasive writing. In particular, they utilise longer words than normal, thinking they sound more impressive. They just make readers feel that someone is trying to impress them; not the same thing at all. I just want to state quite unequivocally that verbing — taking innocent nouns and forcing them to behave as if they were verbs — is morally repugnant; an evil practice that must, at all costs, be stamped out.

Why would a persuasive writer — who presumably wants to be understood — do such a thing? The short answer is, to involve and 'reward' the reader.

But, in every case, they leave the reader a bit of work to do; conjuring up an image, making a connection, drawing a conclusion. X XXXX Love letters, of course: the only form of persuasive writing that does have a divine right to be read. Assuming, of course, that the reader feels roughly the same way about the writer. Y you The single most important word in persuasive writing. Um … sorry, what was that you said? Well, a little bit like that.

Plato on Rhetoric and Poetry

I suppose the enjoyment is partly to do with simple curiosity about the lives of the richly gifted and famous; but another factor, I think, is that I like to be reminded that writing — even the most elevated and artistic kind — is a job of work, requiring tools, a place of business and even a certain amount of physical effort, just like being a dentist or repairing vacuum cleaners. But, while the physical shape of my working life may not be of any pressing concern to you, I think it might be useful if I tried to give an account of some of the mental processes involved in what I do.

Stage 1: before writing Nearly every job I do begins with a written brief. So the first thing I need to do, in the vast majority of cases, is to ask the person responsible for briefing me a lot of questions.

About the Book

But I do want to give you an idea of what a persuasive writer should be looking for in a brief. Many briefs are far from clear about this. Leaving aside which of these objectives any single piece of communication could realistically be expected to achieve, my main concern is always to narrow the list down. Before I start work, I want to agree on one specific objective that takes priority over all the others.

Chapter 10. Persuasion

Yes, but what is the reader like? Most briefs tell me who will be reading my work. I want to know what the reader is like. Most briefs describe the product or service being sold in a fair amount of detail. But, surprisingly often, they fail to address the above question. Yes, but why should the reader believe that? OK, so we have a compelling claim to make: say, our product or service can save the reader hundreds of pounds a month.

But is it believable?

How, exactly, does the saving accrue? If I were the reader, being offered this remarkable money-saving opportunity, would it sound credible to me? She is your wife. I would want to go further, though. When you write persuasively, I would advise you to test the credibility of what you are claiming not just against what your wife, husband or significant other would be willing to believe, but also against what you yourself would be willing to believe. So the last couple of pages may not seem relevant to you.

But I think they are. Every assumption you start out with about what you are going to write, why your reader will find it interesting, and how the words you use will help you achieve the result you want can, and probably should be questioned. Not easy if the client manufactures jet engines or advises on corporate finance deals, but basically sound advice, nevertheless. I rather like it. I need an idea. What does that mean in practice? What kind of idea will help us achieve this? A teeny weeny one, to be honest. Our idea-ette is to write the letter in a way that reflects our understanding that she probably has a choice.

At the other end of that spectrum I mentioned, we need to produce an ad campaign for — well, what? Supermarket XYZ. I know … how about a campaign starring a sassy little girl called Amy, who teaches her dumb, technophobic dad how to find his way around the virtual store, and click his mouse when he finds what he needs? Say, just as a starter for 10, a bloke building a cathedral from matchsticks or a woman meditating on a Scottish mountainside. And, along the bottom, next to the Supermarket XYZ. Well, you come up with a better idea, then.

Which is that, in my view, the success of every piece of persuasive communication depends on an idea of some kind. At its simplest, this might consist of half a dozen bullet points on the back of an envelope. There are two reasons for doing this.

Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing
Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing
Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing
Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing
Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing
Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing Can I Change Your Mind?: The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing

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