Richland College professor pens book on persuasive writing

Scan the shelves or peruse the website of any bookseller and you’ll find a plethora of published works on business writing. However, you will find very few books on the art of persuasive business writing.

That is what led Royce Murcherson, a professor of technical writing at Richland College, to pen a new book that helps workers in any industry at any level produce concise and compelling communications.

“There were a bazillion books on business writing out there but none were persuasive,” Dr. Murcherson said. “We’re surrounded by so many messages and they are coming so quickly. In business, we need to make a good impression just as quickly. This new model for persuasive writing is needed now more than ever to help us write documents that get results.”

Dr. Murcherson’s book, The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model That Gets Results (Kendall Hunt, 2013), outlines a “common-sense model” for business writing based on the ideas of Stephen Toulmin, a British educator who wrote about and taught methods for developing practical arguments.

Toulmin’s ideas were quite familiar to Dr. Murcherson, who earned a Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric and has taught at Richland College since 1997. In her book, Dr. Murcherson invites readers to think of every business document – whether it is an email, memo, letter, job application or report – as an argument. She outlines Toulmin’s model and provides multiple examples of various forms of business writing.

Dr. Murcherson also gives an overview of business ethics and the importance of tone and professionalism in workplace writing.

“What I teach are puzzle pieces, not a formula,” she said. “You learn how the elements work and adapt them to the kind of communication needed.”

The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing started because Dr. Murcherson knew her students needed to learn these skills but she quickly realized it was more than a college textbook.

She has offered professional development sessions based on her book for faculty and staff members at Richland College and at other institutions in the Dallas County Community College District. Dr. Murcherson’s “Writing to Win” sessions have been received enthusiastically.

“I thought we would do one ‘Writing to Win’ session but it turned into four this fall and another in the spring,” she said.

Dr. Murcherson aims to help people create a successful “narrative” through their excellent business writing.

“On the first day of the job, every day on the job, you will be creating your own narrative, writing your story, creating an image,” she said. “And the quality of your story will depend on how you communicate it. Good persuasive writing will have much to do with this. Make your narrative a bestseller.”