My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Clarifying Your Message

Tips from Proofreading: Plain and Simple by Debra Hart May, with my own commentary:
  • "Is the purpose of my communication immediately apparent to my reader?"
    • You don't want your reader to be confused from the very start about your topic. If they have no clue what you are going to talk about, they will have very little interest in actually reading your piece. Even if they do get that far, they will quickly lose interest and walk away. Obviously, the goal of writing is to get people to read the work. In order to do this, the topic of your document as to be clear from the start to draw readers in.
  • "Have I made my message relevant to my reader?"
    • When you write, you should have a target audience in mind. If you are writing to biologists, you have to make sure you pick an up-to-date topic that applies to their interests. If you report on a study that is 100 years old and well-known without finding a way to make it appeal to current readers, then your writing will fail. If you write about a different subject than the medium you want to publish in, then your writing will fail. You have to keep your focus on the reader and what they are interested in hearing about in order to be successful.
  • "Does each new thought make sense?"
    • Go through your piece, sentence by sentence, to analyze how clear each line is. When you go from one idea to the next, does the transition make sense? Can each separate idea stand alone (or does it at least follow logically, given the previous statements)? Keep your wording and ideas clear so that your writing can effectively convey your message.
  • "Do my thoughts flow smoothly and logically throughout my document?"
    • You do not want the reader to have to stop to question why you followed one idea with the next one. The connection between each thought should be easily apparent and should allow your reader to move continuously through the document without getting confused. The move from one thought to the next should be logical.
  • "Are my thoughts clearly expressed?"
    • This may be the biggest issue you will face. You could have a piece with a clear thesis that is relevant to your intended audience and has a lot of logical support, but if the writing is cloudy or jumbled, your writing will fall flat. Check, recheck, and triple-check your sentence structure, language usage, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Edit the piece several times and take a good amount of time to proofread for errors. Do everything possible to make the piece clear, concise, easy to read, and, above all, something that people will want to read.

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