In Narrative Writing, you create tension by gradually building up the challenges faced by the characters using the pebble (small problem), rock (medium problem), boulder (main tension scene) approach. In Persuasive Writing, on the other hand, the key is to start strong and then build to a crescendo by saving your strongest and most emotionally engaging idea for the final body paragraph.
- Argument 1: Start with a strong idea to engage your reader.
- Argument 2: Put a lower impact idea in the middle.
- Argument 3: Leave your strongest argument until the crescendo.
Model how to use the Story Graph by plotting advertisements, newspaper editorials, blogs and political speeches on the graph and discuss how the arguments build to a crescendo.
To take this a step further, introduce students to the concept of a rebuttal. A rebuttal is a sophisticated writing technique which involves demonstrating why the opposing view is incorrect. An effective rebuttal includes three key elements:
- a statement about the opposing point of view
- facts and figures that undermine this point of view
- a professional tone that does not use ridicule to make a point.
This is a great way to enhance the tension in a persuasive text and will challenge your more able writers.
The ultimate aim of a persuasive text is to build a strong case for or against in order to convince the audience to support your point of view. Ordering your ideas correctly to build to a crescendo is the best way to achieve this goal and create a powerful persuasive text.
Tightening Tension Action Activity
Writing a persuasive text is like being a lawyer; you need to build a strong case for or against to convince the jury to support your point of view.
- dangerous driving
Divide the class into groups of 3–4 and specify which issue they are arguing for or against. Explain that each group is a team of lawyers and their job is to gather evidence and present a strong case on their issue.
Give students TEN minutes to prepare their case and then run a mock court in the classroom. While groups argue for and against a particular issue, the rest of the class form the jury. After the cases for and against have been presented get the jury to take a vote on which argument was most convincing.
For a more detailed exploration of the court system try the Courts Challenge: www.courts.sa.gov.au/Community/ForSchools/Resources/CourtsChallenge/Pages/default.aspx.
To learn more about how to Tighten Tension in Narrative and Persuasive Writing attend one of our Teacher Workshops: