Persuasive Writing Checklist

What is persuasive writing?

Persuasive writing uses words to convince the reader to listen or to act. Great business writers use persuasive writing in proposals, articles, newsletters, memos, emails, requests for meetings, speeches, and reports

Persuasive writing has to sway your reader intellectually and emotionally. You should use it in everyday business writing.

Here is a checklist for longer pieces of persuasive writing, such as essays or opinion pieces..

If you are interested in learning more about persuasive writing, we suggest you read these posts:

  1. Three Steps to Better Business Writing - Ethos, Logos, Pathos
  2. Persuasive Writing Brainstormer Template
  3. Seven tips for writing a brilliant opinion piece
  4. Persuasive Writing - Emotional vs Intellectual Words
  5. Remember Your Reader - Persuasive Writing Tips

Join us for our business writing course, The Plain Language Programme.

 by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson
Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest and Google+ and Tumblr and Twitter. Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Her signature courses are Writers WriteThe Plain Language Programme, and The Social Brand

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate



How to Deflate those Inflated Phrases

We receive many emails every day. We are bombarded with adverts, proposals, requests and reports. Why do we respond to some and ignore others? 

As I have said before, I ignore messages that are full of meaningless rambling words and phrases. I also cannot take anyone seriously if their writing is littered with errors in spelling and grammar. I respond to those that are courteous, catch my attention and ask me a simple question. 

Simplicity is the magical ingredient in communicating. Have a look at these examples. How many of these mistakes do you make every day?

Source for Image

If you want a response to your written communications, you need to learn how to structure your writing. It should be clear, easily understood, and concise.

[If you enjoyed this post, you will love Begin at the end - the one essential email trick every business writer should know.]

Join us for The Plain Language Programme if you want to improve your writing skills.

 by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson
Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest and Google+ and Tumblr and Twitter. Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Her signature courses are Writers WriteThe Plain Language Programme, and The Social Brand

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

Writing Inspiration - Secret Worlds

Always remember...

'Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.' 

~Neil Gaiman

Image: Painting by Matthew Weatherstone

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

17 Ways To Make your Novel More Memorable

I have been posting articles about writing novels for a long time. Regular Writers Write contributors, Mia BothaAnthony Ehlers, and I add weekly blogs about writing techniques and writing routines, but some things never change. There are always certain ways to make your novel more memorable. Here are 17 tips for writers who want to do just that.

  1. Build your plot around the decisions you want your protagonist to make.
  2. Structure your book as a roller-coaster ride. It should be a physical journey that forces you to vicariously experience a series of emotions. Pace it. Give us moments of respite and then throw us back into the action.
  3. Keep it simple. Tell the story. Make sure you have a clear beginning, middle and ending
  4. Write from your heart. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. Readers will sense if you’re not being genuine. You do not have to know what you are writing about. As Nikki Giovanni says, writers don’t write from experience. They write from empathy.
  5. Start your novel at the end of the backstory you’ve created. Begin with a breath-taking inciting moment. Something should happen that leads to a revelation of a shocking fact, a surprising insight, or a unique perspective. The protagonist’s status quo must change and he or she needs to act or react. Move your story forward. Don’t look back.
  6. Include only the most important parts of the story. Your novel is a lot like a highlights package of an episode in a person’s life. Cut out the boring bits. Move us from one exciting scene to another. Don’t constantly review your characters’ actions and feelings because nobody cares.
  7. Always remember the end. Where are you taking your characters? You should keep them on the path to that finale. If you don’t, you risk losing your readers along the way.
  8. Use body language. Use simple descriptions with lots of sensory details. Describing through the senses ensures that you show and don't tell.
  9. Remove excess slang and buzzwords from your manuscript. Words that seem so ‘with it’ now, will age your book in one year’s time.
  10. Limit the use of gimmicky viewpoint techniques. Stick to three viewpoints for an 80 000-word novel. It is also a good idea to use a viewpoint that works in the genre and a viewpoint that you are comfortable writing.
  11. Practise techniques to keep your readers on the edge of their seats. How do you keep the suspense going? Make them want to turn the page. You want their full attention.
  12. Check your techniques well in advance. Have you learnt how to write? Have you completed at least one year of daily writing practice? Have you practised writing dialogue so that characters sound different?
  13. Never let your protagonist remain a victim for long in your novel. A powerless protagonist is not a good idea. Most readers feel powerless enough in real life. They want to read about characters who make a difference. Characters who could be them, if they decided to act.
  14. Don’t add unimportant bits and pieces to the plot just to fill in gaps. Rather decide if you need to revise your plot. Is it strong enough? Are your characters motivated enough? Are your characters strong enough?
  15. Give your protagonist and your antagonist story goals. These story goals should be in conflict with each other. Tell a story where your readers can empathise with both your hero and your villain. Make both of them memorable and interesting.
  16. Don’t drag out the ending. Once the question that started the story has been answered, let your characters and your readers get on with their lives.
  17. No matter what, revise and rewrite your manuscript at least three times.

I hope these tips help - whether you're starting a novel, stuck in the middle, or finishing one. I wish you hours of Happy Writing.

[If you want to learn how to write a book with Writers Write, email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.]

© Amanda Patterson

 by Amanda Patterson. Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Her signature courses are Writers WriteThe Plain Language Programme, and The Social Brand. Follow her on Pinterest,FacebookGoogle+Tumblr and Twitter.  

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

Five 10-Minute Fixes for Your Short Story

A conservation journalist friend jokes – at least I think she’s joking – that she keeps an emergency bottle of vodka under the seat of her 4x4 for her field trips. Sometimes we all need that metaphorical quick fix for our writing. (We all know drinking is a bad idea for writers, don’t we?)

Maybe you’ve written a short story for an upcoming competition and it requires an emergency edit. Perhaps you’ve dusted off a story that has been languishing in a drawer and feel it needs some spark. 

Here are five 10-minute edits for your short story to get you to the deadline:

  1. Stop and check out the view. Spend 10 minutes freewriting on the world of your story. Describe the setting around your characters. A messy teen’s bedroom. The smell of an empty church. Be as specific as you can.
  2. Get quirky. Spend another 10 minutes focusing on your main character. Give him a quirk – maybe he buys a paper from a street vendor every day. He doesn’t read it – he just feels sorry for the guy on the side of the road.
  3. Think bad thoughts. Take 10 minutes to vent on the page. The catch? Do it the 1st person in your antagonist’s viewpoint. List all the nasty things you want to do to the hero. Don’t hold back – let it all out.
  4. Plant a bomb! Squeeze in another 10 minutes brainstorming some radical plot points for your story. Does your character find a suspicious parcel on a park bench? Does she burn her soufflé just before a first date? Shake things up for your character.
  5. Arrange the flowers. Take 10 minutes to skim through your story and highlight the parts you feel are working. These are your best blooms – could they be a clue as to where the story could be stronger?  

Keep all these notes with you when you do your final edit and see if your story doesn’t emerge as tighter, quirkier and more vivid.  You may not have time to write a new story from scratch but you may be able to give an existing one a second shot at life. If not, just reach for that vodka under your seat.

[Anthony will be teaching Short Cuts - How to write short stories - this Sunday]

 by Anthony Ehlers

(If you enjoyed this post, you will love Cut to the Chase - Three ways to get your short story started)

Anthony has facilitated courses for Writers Write since 2007. Published both locally and internationally, he was twice a runner-up in the Mills&Boon Voice of Africa short story competition. In 2013, his crime short story was included in Bloody Satisfied, an anthology sponsored by the National Arts Festival SA. As a scriptwriter, he has written three television features. In 2014, his short films were short-listed for the Jameson First Shot competition, as well as the European Independent Film Festival. Follow Anthony on Twitter and Facebook.

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

The Writers Write Interview - Jassy MacKenzie

Jassy Mackenzie is a South African author who has written seven novels. She lives in Johannesburg with her partner, Deon, two horses and two cats. She writes crime and erotica and still wrestles a day job. She is witty and kind and has trouble saying no to carrot cake. 

She says it’s funny that when she wrote crime no one ever asked if she had killed someone, but now that she writes erotica everyone asks about her sex life. She explains how she did her research, "I find lots of information on the internet. I read a book written by a mistress, which was very educational. I did have a similar background to Emma Caine, the protagonist in Folly." 

About her latest book, Breathless: "All of us have been involved with abuse in different forms. I wanted to show how easy it is to be manipulated into believing it was your fault. I wanted to show a toxic relationship."

The Writers Write Interview 

Author: Jassy Mackenzie
Date of Birth: 19 May 1970
Date of Interview: 3 September 2014
Place: Lonehill, Johannesburg
The Book: Breathless

1. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Jack Reacher.

2. What is your most treasured possession?
My immortal nail file. I do a lot of nail filing when I think of words.

3. Which living person do you most dislike?
Anyone who seeks to gratify their own needs at the expense of other people or the environment.

4. What is your greatest fear?
Spiders.

5. Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?
Deon, my partner. 

6. What is your greatest regret?
Having only one life. 

7. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
The assassin in Kill your boss by Shane Kuhn.  

8. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
A short history of almost everything by Bill Bryson.

9. What is your favourite journey?
Any road trip. 

10. What is your favourite quotation?
It is from The Lord of the Rings: All that is gold does not glitter 

11. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
Cats. 

12. What do you most value in a friend?
Empathy.

13. What quality do you most admire in a woman?
The ability to be artfully manipulative.

14. Which book that you’ve written is your favourite?
I always love the most recent, because it is freshest in my mind and I have a very special place in my heart for Folly because it was so much fun. I started writing crime because I was reading a lot of crime. I did Folly because I wanted to try something different. Romance is more fun than thrillers. Falling in love is so enjoyable. 

15. What are your favourite names?
For a writer: the first one that comes conveniently to mind that doesn’t begin with the same letter as any other character’s name and that suits the character. 

16. What do you do as a hobby?
I ride horses and bicycles and, occasionally, I run. I also love to cook.

17. Which are your three favourite books?

I am going to choose three South African authors instead of books. They are Fiona Snyckers, Kgebetli Moele, and Louis Greenberg.

18. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
It is impossible to say. Ideas don’t come when they are called, they pop into you head when they feel like it.

19. What is your Writing Routine?
I get in front of my computer and I stay there. I prefer writing in the morning, but I write whenever I can. 

20. What are your Top Writing Tips?

  1. Try to write at least two or three times a week.
  2. Set a word target per session. Don’t stop until you’ve reached it.  
  3. Find something in the writing to get excited about.  
  4. If you need to make notes, do it before you start your session so that you know where you are going and won’t get stuck. 
  5. Try to keep going no matter what because it is always easier to rewrite. 

Visit Jassy MacKenzie's Website to find out more. Follow Jassy on Facebook and Twitter.

Interviewer: Mia Botha (Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter)

Mia Botha facilitates for Writers Write. She is also a novelist, a ghost writer, and the winner of the Mills&Boon Voice of Africa Competition. When she isn’t writing, she is the mother of two children and the wife of a very lucky man. 

(We have started a new interview for guests called The Writers Write Interview. This is based, in part, on Amanda Patterson's old format of 17 Questions and Answers for Authors. We've added a few more. We hope you enjoy it.)

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

Transitional Words and Phrases - Three reasons to use them

What are transitional words or phrases?

Transitions are phrases or words that are used to connect one idea to the next.

Why do we need transition words?

  1. They provide coherence to a story.
  2. They help writers bridge the gap between ideas.
  3. They provide a signal to the reader about what is coming next in the writing.

Source for Image

Join us for The Plain Language Programme if you want to improve your writing skills.

 by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson
Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest and Google+ and Tumblr and Twitter. Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Her signature courses are Writers WriteThe Plain Language Programme, and The Social Brand

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

A South African Publisher Wants Your Book!

Shuter & Shooter Publishers have announced a new and exciting project that needs many books to be authored.

The project will include the Primary School Grades 1–7, in seven languages, namely isiZulu, isiXhosa, English, Sesotho, Sepedi, Afrikaans and Setswana.

The publishers need a set number of books written in the following genres:

  1. Poetry/rhyme
  2. Folktales/fables
  3. Short Stories
  4. Plays/drama
  5. Picture books/comics
  6. Storybooks/novels

The books will be produced as both ebooks and the printed book and publication dates will fall in the 2015/2016 financial year. We would like to extend an invitation to any writers to be a part of this project.

Should you require more information, including the specifications for each grade, genre and language, please email nikki@shuter.co.za

Authors can submit material in any of the following ways: 

  • email to nikki@shuter.co.za (in a Word document format)
  • delivered to Shuters House, 110 CB Downes Road, Mkondeni, Pietermaritzburg 3201 
  • via post to PO Box 61 Mkondeni 3212

Please note: Manuscripts will be assessed and publication is at the discretion of the publisher.

Visit the publisher’s website: Shuter and Shooter Publishers

Writers Write teaches you how to write novels, memoirs and short stories. Send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

The Unusual Work Habits of Eight Great Writers

This infographic, created by Ninja Essays, shows the unusual work habits of some of the greatest writers of all time. 

We have often written about authors and their habits and addictions. If you find this as fascinating as we do, read The Coffee Club - 10 authors addicted to coffeeWriters of Substance (Abuse)  and the Writing Habits of 31 Famous Authors

Source:Ninja Essays

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

Stephen King On Writing Short Stories


If you want to learn more about writing short stories, join us for Short Cuts – How to write a short story on 19 October 2014.

If you enjoyed this quote, you will love our Top 20 Short Story Quotes. If you are looking for competitions, read this post: 10 Short Story Competitions to enter before the end of 2014.

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate