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Writing to Persuade: How to Bring People Over to Your Side (Hardcover)
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From the former New York Times Op-Ed page editor, a definitive and entertaining resource for writers of every stripe on the neglected art of persuasion.
In the tradition of The Elements of Style comes Trish Hall’s essential new work on writing well—a sparkling instructional guide to persuading (almost) anyone, on (nearly) anything. As the person in charge of the Op-Ed page for the New York Times, Hall spent years immersed in argument, passion, and trendsetting ideas—but also in tangled sentences, migraine-inducing jargon, and dull-as-dishwater writing. Drawing on her vast experience editing everyone from Nobel Prize winners and global strongmen (Putin) to first-time pundits (Angelina Jolie), Hall presents the ultimate guide to writing persuasively for students, job applicants, and rookie authors looking to get published. She sets out the core principles for connecting with readers—laid out in illuminating chapters such as “Cultivate Empathy,” “Abandon Jargon,” and “Prune Ruthlessly.” Combining boisterous anecdotes with practical advice (relayed in “tracked changes” bubbles), Hall offers an infinitely accessible primer on the art of effectively communicating above the digital noise of the twenty-first century.
About the Author
Trish Hall worked for the New York Times for more than two decades, where she oversaw six feature sections and served as both Op-Ed editor and senior editor. She lives in New York City.
Hall is a skilled and insightful writer who knows how persuasion happens… But her book isn’t just about writing; it’s about influencing anyone at all, whether in writing or in life… Along the way, a few mysteries are unraveled: why lies on Twitter are more popular than facts; why Republicans are better persuaders than Democrats.
— Patricia T. O’Connor
Profound.... This book offers sound, well-reasoned advice that will benefit any writer.
Part memoir, part style manual, this book presents the rules of persuasion as Hall has seen them at play. She acknowledges that, like all rules, hers could be broken—but, after reading her clear and researched explanation of each one, it’s hard to imagine how.... At the core of Hall’s advice is a focus on the power of empathy: finding common ground to find a path forward, advice that extends far beyond the pages of an essay. Woven throughout are fascinating anecdotes from Hall’s career; stories of chasing the truth, interrogating her own opinions, and encouraging others to do the same.
The worth of Hall's counsel extends well beyond writing, as she illuminates the types of attitudes and approaches that might make others more receptive or resistant and how crucial it is to find common bonds or frames of reference, to engage rather than antagonize. In these times of political polarization, she suggests that it's still possible to find common ground and to talk to each other rather than shout past each other.... A lucid book about building bridges through communication along with some interesting behind-the-scenes background at the NYT.
— Kirkus Reviews
Trish Hall is a remarkably gifted writer and editor—I’ve watched her turn drivel into prose and rambling thoughts into elegant arguments. At long last, she’s revealing her secret sauce. She doesn’t just tell you how to be more convincing; she shows you by example. This is one of the most useful books I’ve ever read on writing.
— Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Power Moves
Trish Hall has, ostensibly, written a book about writing. But it’s so much more than that: it’s a book about living, filled with so much excellent advice that I want to give it to everyone I know.
— Ruth Reichl, author of My Kitchen Year
Whether your goal is to learn to write effective opinion pieces, or to understand what an editor at the New York Times does, or simply to follow the gripping story of an intrepid woman who rose to be a powerful news executive at a pivotal moment in journalistic history, Trish Hall’s Writing to Persuade is a fascinating, essential book.
— Mark Danner, Endowed Chair in Journalism and English, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism