How can I make this more persuasive?
I am writing a letter to a high school student (this is one of the paragraphs)
A shocking number of teens have had their lives shattered and ruined due to drinking and driving. As stated on the website, "DWI Blog," Drinking and driving kills one teen every hour. (How can I add some elaboration about that fact? I want to try to connect with the audience, high school students). According to "CDC," in 2004, 4,767 teenagers lost ehir lives from fatal inuries caused by drinking and driving. (How can I add some elaboration?) Many people do not think about the consequences of drinking and driving. It is deadly.
You can make an argument more persuasive in many different ways. First, you can give an example or story of a teen in a fatal accident. You can talk about his or her life. This will make drinking and driving more than statistics, although statistics will be important to have. Second, you can also talk about survivors and how they deal with life. They will have great emotional appeal, because they were in accidents and some of them would have lost friends and loved ones. Third, you can also give a few stories of mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters of those of passed away in alcohol related accidents. I believe the more personal you make it, the more personally the people will be affected.
I think that you are off to a very good start. One element that I would suggest is to focus on the physical effects of alcohol on the body. For example, data tells us that one drink, depending on body weight and other factors such as food consumption, can alter sight perception and motor coordination. This has an immediate and catastrophic effect on being able to control an automobile at a high, moderate, or any rate of speed. Pointing out the physiological effects of alcohol on the body and muscular actions might be persuasive. Scientific data can help in this realm. If I can offer one more tidbit, I would suggest not to open with a blog as a reference point. There are data points available on a blog, but the immediate impression of a blog is that it is not entirely reliable and going to the source of data from a relatively non- subjective element might be more helpful in your opening.
Research shows that teens are particularly susceptible to emotional appeals (as are women of all ages). You have to make it pertain to your audience (especially if they are teens). Take that statistic and fit it to your high school. If it's one teen every hour, when is that hour going to hit your high school? Does that mean one person in a high school a year? 2? Cause them to imagine how it will happen, who it could be. Is it going to be the student who dies fault? Or is it more likely to be one of their friends?
Last year, my high school lost 1 student to drinking and driving. The student who died didn't have a drop, the drunk lived with not a single scratch. Think about how he feels.
Good luck, it's hard to get teens to realize the reality of their actions until someone dies.
Concerning your desire to make your letter more persuasive, two things come quickly to mind.
- You build a case with evidence, and in this case the evidence should probably be as specific as possible. To elaborate on the statistic you mention, for instance, be specific and do more research. Where is one teen killed every hour, for example: your state? the U.S.? the world? Be specific. And get more evidence. What about in your area? What about the high school the recipient of your letter attends? Get more evidence and make your presentation as relevant as possible.
- Arguments are built with logic and reasoning. Research shows that often emotional appeals have only short-term effects, although there are exceptions, of course. Make logic and reasoning your focus.
Anyway, there's two suggestions that I hope will help.
I recommend locating some examples of people's lives that were affected by drunk drivers. There are sites were you can obtain true stories. You can just shorten them but chose some that would be of more interest to teens.
Teens often think about the people who are killed by drunk drivers not those who live with permanent disabilities due to drunk drivers. When I lived in California I knew about a 17 year old girl. She was a beautiful chestnut haired intelligent student who was looking forward to going to Berkley. She went to a friend's house one afternoon and they decided to sneak and try some wine. The girl only had a glass and a half when she realized she was due to get the car back so her brother could take it to work.
The girl jumped into the car and pulled out of the driveway. She was two houses down when a child ran in front of her. She hit the child and hit a tree. The child and the girl were both at the nursing home where I volunteered. The girl had her 30th birthday celebration and the boy had recently been admitted as a transfer from a facility that had housed children.
The girl was severely brain damaged and had to have all her needs cared for but she would cry for her mother all the time. The boy was unable to move from the neck down and he had been brain damaged although not as severely. He was a happy young man and he cheered people up.
I wish that the story ended there, but it did not. The little boy who was now 20 had a father who became an alcoholic and one night his brother who was 15 and his friends swiped his father's beer. They hung out at a river and drank and laughed and swam. On their way home the car flipped. The brother wasn't driving but he was thrown from the car and lost both of his legs and suffered brain damage that made him so aggressive that he was institutionalized. The other three teens walked away with out any physical damage, but the teen that drove the car hung himself two months after the accident.
I know this is a very dramatic story, but it is a true one that I have shared with my children and my friends. I knew the mother's of the boy and the young woman. It taught me just how much pain can travel at the hands of a little bit of alcohol and driving.