Monday, January 26, 2009

Follow This 7-Step Approach to Good Writing.

The 7-Step Writing Process

1.Envision the Audience & Articulate Your Purpose
2.Brainstorm or Cluster then choose an Order and Tone
3.Write and then do something else
4.Begin the Re-writing Process while:

Looking for Characters as Subject & Action Verbs
Keeping Subject and Verb Together, and
Prefering Active Voice

5.Review Transitions & Coherence
6.Check Mechanics (spelling, etc.)
7.Read, Edit, and Send

Notice that this process begins with audience and purpose. You must start with your purpose and answer the question:What am I trying to achieve with this message? You might also ask yourself:How will I know if I have achieved it? Hell, if you don't know what you're trying to achieve - why you are bothering to write to someone - how can the audience be expected to know what you're trying to accomplish?

You will be helped, too, if you can answer the following questions on the minds of all readers: Why did you write to me? What do you want me to do? and, Why should I care? Those are the WIIFM questions - the What's In It For Me questions. If you can answer those quickly, you will likely have an attentive audience.

If you feel intimidated by writing, simply write sentences at random or make an outline, or a cluster chart. As you are doing this, you can be thinking of an order and tone. In any event, start writing and worry about that stuff later in the re-writing process.

After you have filled some paper with words and sentences and paragraphs, look at each sentence to assure that it has a character as subject and an action verb. See if the subject and verb sit close to each other in the sentence and check to see that you have written the verb in the active voice (more about grammar later).

Now, examine each paragraph to see that it develops one topic, or thesis. See if each sentence in the paragraph relates to the topic and see if the sentences follow logically toward a summarizing sentence. If they do, examine the next paragraph to see if it has a connection to the previous one; in other words, see if the paragraphs have transition between them.

Now, run a spell check and review all grammar. After you have done that, set the piece aside and get a cup of coffee, a bottle of water, a Power Bar, whatever. Disconnect from the writing so that you can look at it afresh. I know, that takes time. Well, guess what, good writing takes time, even good email writing takes time. I should say, "especially good email writing."

Now, perform your last edit; look at everything closely; fuss over the message and then, and only then, send the message. If you have taken this kind of care with your written document, you can feel reasonably confident that it will reflect well on you and help you achieve your purpose, shared understanding and the accomplishment of an appropriate action!

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