When Authors Write to Effect a Change

Writers have a purpose when they write and so it is important to embed this understanding in the minds of young writers. A reader can be influenced by the words used by the writer. We want young authors to fully understand this purpose for writing.  The writer evokes a response, or a change in attitude from the reader and is thus fulfilled,  

What we are attempting to do here is to encourage the development of a persuasive tone into the writing without immediately descending into a pale imitation of a persuasive essay. To avoid this, we need to focus on the reasons for writing, rather than being mesmerized by the form.

It is therefore vital that we show students how to read like writers. Show them how the writer is using words to influence and inform the reader.

What craft is the writer using to achieve this?
What do you notice about the writer’s voice?
What words are the most powerful?
What is the writer’s point of view here?

This requires us as teachers to seek out good quality texts that convey a sense of social consciousness or awareness. A variety of texts written in a range of genres and styles can be used most effectively to show students how authors use words and illustrative techniques to affect the reader’s attitude, opinion, and understanding of any given issue. From here, students may then set about writing their own pieces. This is when we support students to try writing about different ideas and topics, or try a particular writing style another author has used to effect. Topics generally range from global issues to more personal concerns. –those things that drive us crazy (think-what cheeses me off!)

This approach aims to encourage students to:

·        Keep their writing focused on the purpose they have identified.

·        Choose a genre for exploring their opinion, idea, point of view

·        Continue to be aware of the target audience throughout the writing

·        Continue to develop their voices as writers

·        Organize the writing to clearly convey their thoughts

·        Notice illustrative techniques that support the written messages

 Some Suggested Actions For Young Writers To Follow:

·        Participate in class discussions around relevant, age appropriate social issues that arise from the reading that takes place.
·        Talk to each other about the focus of their writing
·        Articulate their writing intentions(pre-writing) and what they hope to achieve
·        Read and reread their work at regular intervals
·        Spend adequate time revising their work
·        Edit their work with a partner

Gathering Suitable Resources:

Collect as many texts as you can that convey a social message or are written from a perspective that desires to effect a change. In selecting books, we must remain mindful of selecting texts that are appropriate and accessible for the students you are teaching. These texts will be used to extend the thinking of students and open their minds to a variety of possible writing topics and ideas.

Exploring Issues

·        Ask students:

What matters to you enough to want to write about it, or explore it in your writing?
      What frustrates or annoys you?
      What is something you feel strongly enough about to write it down
      How do other authors present such issues and could you do something similar?

·        List

 Issues that matter to your students
       Possible audiences

·        Talk about

 Issues and they way they affect people and communities
      Ways to bring about a change, or improvement

·        Rehearse

How they would support a cause or deal with an issue in their writing
      Encourage students to talk about an issue with a partner as if they were talking to
      a reader

·        Document/chart

Some of the words, phrases etc that the mentor authors are using to influence the reader.

In What Ways Do Writers Influence Us?

·        By warning us through their writing both fiction and non fiction
·        By telling a story that brings the issue to our attention
·        By telling a story that has a message
·        By providing the reader with examples
·        By describing details
·        By begging us to change
·        By writing letters –public and personal
·        By writing about something worth preserving or protecting
·         By describing a scene to highlight a problem
·        By writing poetry
·        By writing about how to treat people, places, objects, treasures
·        By inspiring us to try new things
·        By inspiring us to be brave or resolute
·        By describing the benefits to be gained by a particular action/actions
·        By repeating words, or a group of words (word patterns) to add emphasis
·        By writing a story with a moral
·        By asking questions

When writers do these things they are ‘prodding’ us to think more deeply about an issue.


  1. Great to hear your advice all the way through. Thank you for the specifics! I believe that reading other text does help so much, to examine how words are used (sometimes 'not' used) to persuade. I've also used certain newspaper column who write to inform and through that, to persuade. These are useful especially for older students.


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