Persuasive Non-fiction

Lily.2016My second attempt at writing a persuasive argument in college wound up changing my perspective about the topic. I say second because my first attempt received a very low grade. This was my first journey into writing so my understanding of a persuasive argument would be to persuade my reader. Right?

I went to my professor to complain about the ‘D’ I received on my paper. In the moment, I assumed she graded me according to her own view on the subject and I marched over to her office.

I knocked pleasantly on her door with the rage of a Tiger brewing inside. Banging on the door was what I really wanted to do but that was beneath my behavioral standards. When she opened the door, in a calm voice, I asked to speak with her about my paper. By her demeanor, I believe she was already waiting for me.

I ranted, “You asked for a persuasive argument. I wrote one. It meets all of your criteria so what is this ‘D’ for?”

She looked at me and said in a tone not far from my own, “The fact that you followed my directions and wrote from a persuasive standpoint is why you got a ‘D’ and not an ‘F’.” She quickly explained, “In a persuasive argument, you want your reader to be persuaded but first you must present the contradictions and variables that persuaded you of the topic’s validity. Otherwise, it is just you writing about what you know in your own opinion. That isn’t a persuasive argument if you haven’t researched the topic from other angles, including viewpoints that contradict your own. This is necessary for persuasion. Present as many angles as possible, then present the evidence that supports your view. “

I won’t go into further details of the conversation but I sat in her office for quite a while learning the value of a persuasive argument that has been thoroughly researched.

Simply put, if you are writing a non-fiction title intended to persuade the reader, be prepared to thoroughly support your topic. The best persuasion is a persuasion that includes other facets presented through solid research. This builds credibility in the eyes of the reader as it proves you are not afraid to explore other viewpoints and evidence. If we really want a reader to believe what we write, we must be confident in the material. To be confident in the material, we must know it from every angle.

Writing persuasive non-fiction from only one perspective will draw readers who already agree with that perspective. You don’t need to provide evidence or research from opposing angles when it isn’t required by your audience. Where is the challenge in persuading readers who already agree with you? In fact, that isn’t persuasion at all.

After my discussion with the professor, she advised that I could re-write the paper and turn it in for a better grade if I present material from the opposition, as well as evidence to support my claim.

When researching as she requested, I found my original perspective crumbling under the evidence presented by the opposing view. In my case, I wound up writing a persuasive argument over the need for research in writing. I didn’t get an ‘A’ but I did get a better grade.

Not every non-fiction writer will consider researching another perspective. It isn’t against the law, or particularly taboo by today’s standards, to write on a topic from only one point of view. There are plenty of non-fiction titles available that prove this is so.

From CMP’s point of view, non-fiction titles need to be fully researched to the best of the author’s ability. If the topic is a theory or experience that cannot be proven with physical evidence, researching from angles that oppose your theory is a way to present in lieu of physical evidence. Variables are part of research in any theory or hypothesis and should be included for the reader.

Ultimately, for the success and credibility of a non-fiction title, present the whole and let the reader decide whether they are persuaded or not. To CMP, this proves the author is confident in the material they are presenting and a confident author will not cringe under opposing reviews.

Authors are not required to agree with opposing material and I encourage this truth to be stated. Perhaps the evidence says something completely different to you, as an author, than mainstream society. This is transparency in writing. Let the reader know your truth throughout and it will be broadcast through your voice.

Be confident, transparent, and thorough in writing your truth for persuasive non-fiction.

Remember: Truth is subjective.

By: Lily Gianna Woodmansee; Executive Editor for Cactus Moon Publications

 

 

 

 

The Art of Storytelling

Open book. Indians sit at wigwam on pages of open book. Adventure story

Storytelling has been buried under so much commercialization, the art itself is lost…even to the writer.

Melissa, editor for Revisions and Edits, and I were discussing how stories have been told generation after generation. Stories that have never made it into a book and often, the author is unknown. No doubt those stories are a compilation, a story evolving over each generation but rich, nonetheless.

Storytelling was used by our Ancestors for more than the passage of wisdom. Stories provided entertainment for the children during particularly difficult seasons and illnesses. Providing the lyrics when told through music.

Imagining a life in tribal days, there had to be some storytellers whose talent made stories more compelling. The tribal actors, telling stories through shape-shifting into various characters.Some storytellers undoubtedly drew more of an audience than others.

Even today, stories provide endless entertainment and storytelling is big business.

As a publisher, I am often torn between the storyteller and writing ability. Some of the best storytellers are the worst writers. I can be a difficult task, pulling the story from deep within, putting it to paper.

This is why CMP has collaborative editors. As a young publisher, we work with budding authors and require talented, intuitive editors to help bring the story to life. Finally, we require talented illustrators to capture the story’s image. A perfect pyramid in today’s model of storytelling. The author, editor, and illustrator.

Not every storyteller is a talented writer, conversely, not every writer is a talented storyteller. In CMP’s mind, the storytelling-pyramid is an act of reciprocation. We utilize everyone’s particular talent, sharing in the storyteller’s vision, enhancing the story through collaboration on the final manifestation…the novel. Working together, the author can hone the art of storytelling.

Storytelling being a timeless art, may manifest one way today and another in the future. When a writer sets pen to paper, there should be an intention for the story. If the intention is simply – I want to publish a book… this becomes the goal. Sales may be weak since the goal has been accomplished, no thought for beyond.

When writing a story, imagine this story being read more than one-hundred years later. Maybe the story is so compelling that it continues as a legacy for future generations…The Scarlet Letter is just one example of a story still being told over two hundred years later.

If the intention is to be a storyteller, write a compelling story that can be read for centuries and watch  its value grow organically. Your intention provided the fuel to catapult the story into the cosmos. Of course, accelerants will be required. Social media, events, networking…that is just an aspect of the storytelling industry.

This doesn’t mean that in this century, the story will gain the notoriety hoped for. There is never a guarantee because genres come in and out of season. Remember author, James Allen? He wrote As a Man Thinketh in 1912. I don’t know the intention behind his writing but the book has been reprinted and is  given to salesmen by one company as a motivational tool. Over one hundred years later.

Anyone can write, but storytelling is an art.