“Every piece of writing which is not simply the purveying of straightforward information — as a recipe or a formula is, for example— is an essay in persuasion. You are persuading your reader, while you hold his attention, to see the world with your eyes, to agree with you that this is a stirring occasion, that that situation is essentially tragic, or that another is deeply humorous. All fiction is persuasive in this sense. The author’s conviction underlies all imaginative representation of whatever grade.
“Since this is so, it behooves you to know what you do believe of most of the major problems of life, and of those minor problems which you are going to use in your writing….
“You must find subjects on which you are capable of making up your mind, to serve as the groundwork for your writing. The best books emerge from the strongest convictions — and for confirmation see any bookshelf.”
From Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
What a marvelous insight! What a fresh and exciting way to think of our craft — as the art of persuasion! We tend to think of persuasion in relation to selling, don’t we? And yet, as Dorothea says so well, as writers we are persuaders. When we set pen to paper or fingers to keys, we are wooing readers to capture their attention. We enticing them to enter our world and to see it through our eyes. We are aiming to convince them that our view of a situation makes sense and has value.
Conviction counts in this process — it’s the “groundwork” for writing that’s believable and affecting. If we write with confidence and conviction, then we earn our readers’ trust and the right to their time. If we are half-hearted or unsure of what we want to say, readers can easily sense it and feel cheated or even manipulated.
“The best books emerge from the strongest convictions” — what a powerful insight — and how helpful as we all write.
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