Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Argument Basics: Writing for an Audience & the Three Rhetorical Appeals

What's the difference between writing for yourself and writing for an audience? Why is writing for yourself often called "informal" and writing for others often called "formal"? What's are some basic differences between formal and informal writing? These are the basic differences between our article write-ups (which are supposed to be informal) and a summary-and-response essay (which is supposed to be formal).

The question of appealing to an audience, arguing in ways that interest people, move people, convince people, has troubled speakers and writers since the beginning of civilization. Eventually, philosophers started to develop theories regarding how to answer this question effectively. One such philosopher, Aristotle, broke down appealing to an audience into three categories, The Three Rhetorical Appeals:

-- Logos -- appealing to an audience based on the audience's logic and basic reasoning

-- Pathos -- appealing to an audience based on the audience's emotions

-- Ethos --  appealing to an audience based on their values and beliefs, their ethics

Notice: The key in appealing to an audience is looking at an argument form their perspective, not yours. Consider this comparison: Every audience wants you, the writers and speakers, to think like them, or at least to try to relate to them; but not every audience wants you to "be yourself." So remember, when writing for an audience, focus on the audience's perspective. Trust me; this is a simple but challenging idea.


Here's an exercise to try to think through the basic ideas of appealing to an audience:
(And here's the same document in a Word file, just in case the link above doesn't work for you:

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