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The key difference between argument and persuasion is that persuasion necessitates your selection of a specific audience to which the writing is addressed. While the analytical essay allows you to defend a stance (making an argument), the persuasive piece asks you to select a problem you hope to resolve and choose a specific person or group of people who can do something to bring resolution to the problem. You will be attempting to persuade that audience to take a specified action that will remedy the problem as you present it. It is essential for you to name the exact audience whom you will write to; leaving the audience vague (“I’m writing to just anybody”) is not an option: If you don’t write to somebody, then nobody will be convinced to do anything. You also will need to decide on a genre of writing that will be the best way to reach your selected audience. If you are writing to an individual, then you might choose to write a persuasive letter; if you write to a social group, then you might write a letter or speech to be presented at that organization’s meeting; if you are writing to the citizens of your town or city, then you might choose to write an article in the local newspaper; if you are writing to college-aged men, then you might choose to write a feature article for a young men’s magazine. Just as finding a problem to address will help you select your audience, pinning down your audience will help you decide on an appropriate genre for reaching that audience. Importantly, you will be presenting your audience with a problem, proposing an action they could take to help resolve that problem, and persuading them to take that action.
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