Question Description

I’m working on a writing question and need an explanation to help me understand better.

You are writing to someone (or someones) who has the power to make the change you seek.

You’ll have to do a thorough analysis of the audience’s needs, attitudes, and knowledge in order to devise an approach to achieving your goal. You’ll probably have to revisit those thoughts throughout your process, to make sure you’re not unintentionally alienating them in ways that will prevent them from appreciating your message.


You want to persuade. But remember, this is not the persuasion of a small child throwing a tantrum until the authority figure gives in. You need to convince your audience that this change is in everyone’s best interest, not just your own.


1. Feel the passion!

Look over your research from the previous few weeks. What current news topics are you most passionate about and you want to ensure that other people hear the truth about the issues surrounding this topic. Visualize your research. What are the problems? What could be better? Write down everything you can think of, but try to focus on policies and procedures rather than individuals or insignificant events.

2. Find your focus.

From your list, pick an issue that seems important to you and also might impact others. It should be something that, if you can solve it, will have a positive impact on the world beyond yourself. This is your topic for your essay.

Possible topics include: gender bias, gender stereotyping, racism/bias against a particular group (Latinx, LGTBQ people, etc), or misinformation about Black Lives Matter, Covid19, Defunding the Police or the current “post-truth” political climate in our country. Review the articles we have read this semester and choose a topic that truly interests you.

3. Consider your audience choices.

What are the different groups affected by this problem? List them. There will be many. We call these people “stakeholders.” Which ones seem both persuadable and able to make changes? This is your audience.

4. Analyze your audience.

Which decision-maker(s) are you going to write to? Why have you chosen them? Consider your audience’s needs, attitudes and knowledge regarding your subject.

5. Make your case that a problem exists – Your Voice only – No sources

Write an argument that describes and illustrates the problem to the best of your ability without relying on any additional sources. Remember what you know about your audience. What can you say that will persuade them to agree with you that this is a problem worthy of their attention.

You are not complaining. While you are working, feel free to feel your feelings and vent to anyone who will listen, but remember that in the end, venting is a pressure release, not an effective method of persuading an audience to take action to help solve a problem.

6. Improve your case – Add Expert Opinions.

What additional information and research will help improve your argument that this is a problem? What do you need to prove to your audience to be convincing, and what kind of proof do you need to find? Are your sources convincing and credible?

7. Create a solution

As you do research into your problem, you will likely find information on possible solutions. Return to the readings from the previous two weeks to get additional ideas about solutions. You probably have a few ideas of your own as well. What would be a good solution to this issue? How will you convince your audience that this is a good solution?

8. Revise

Now that you’ve created your first draft of your essay, it’s time to revise. Based on feedback, as well as any additional insights along the way, revise the draft to improve its effectiveness. Think of your audience and what would be most convincing.

9. Edit & Polish

Check each of your sentences for clarity – Are they saying what you think they are saying? Find someone to read your essay aloud to you and listen for any mistakes. It’s much easier to hear our errors than to see them.

10. Title

A title will be especially important here. One technique is the use of a title and subtitle where the title introduces the subject but primarily function to interest the reader, and the subtitle clarifies the specific purpose of the piece.

A Democracy in Peril: The Dangers of Being Misinformed During An Election Year

11. Works Cited

You should have 2 – 3 sources listed on a Works Cited page. To avoid a charge of plagiarism, you must list the full citation for ALL outside sources used within the text of your essay. If you started with a startling fact in your introduction or used evidence from one of our readings in your body paragraphs, you need to have a in-text citation within your essay with a matching full citation on the Works Cited page.

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