Where's the Why?

A hand-drawn question mark on a chalkboard. Photo by TeroVesalainen on Pixabay

It seems to me that writers often leave out the “why” in their advice articles. “Do this” may portray confidence, but if we value the ability to think for ourselves in a sea of fake news and false information, we must back up our claims. We disrespect our audience when giving unsupported advice, treating them like children who should do as they’re told because we know what’s best for them. Supporting our arguments not only improves the integrity of our writing, but shows readers the respect they deserve.

I do not recommend cluttering your writing with unnecessary asides; leave out obvious or inferable reasoning. As my high school English teacher said, “respect your reader’s intelligence.”

So what is the best way to ensure your argument’s validity? If you’ve taken an academic writing course, you may recall the rhetorical strategies of logos, ethos, and pathos. Academic audiences favour facts and statistics (logos), and all arguments benefits from the credibility of the author (ethos). Persuasion through emotion (pathos) persuades the most, which is why advertising uses it so much. When appropriate, utilize pathos by telling a story. We think, remember, and form emotional connections through stories. Your personal experiences work best, but hypothetical situations and other people’s narratives also work well (as long as you have permission to tell them).

Next time you write, preserve the integrity of your craft. Respect your reader’s intelligence, and let them evaluate your claims for themselves.

A woman thoughfully reading a book. Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels

Written on September 29, 2018