Better Business Writing – Engage readers – Tighten & brighten – Make your Case
By Bryan A. Garner
It matters how you say something.
Slow down just a little to study the work of PRO’s
Read one piece (at least) aloud each day as if you were a news announcer. Read with feeling.
Know why you are writing
Depends on your purpose – What do you want as an outcome?
Plainly state the issue you’re addressing and what you hope to achieve
Keep your Goal in mind
Understand your Readers
Get to the point quickly and clearly
Use tone appropriate for your audience
Emphasize the items most important to your readers “What is in for them”
Choose an intelligent, NONSPECIALIST member of your audience to write for – or invent one and focus on writing to that person.
Divide your writing process into four separate tasks
MADMAN – ARCHITECT – CARPENTER – JUDGE
- Madman – Gathers materials and generates ideas
- Architect – Organizes information by drawing outline
- Carpenter – Puts your thoughts into words, laying out sentences and paragraphs by following Architect’s plan
- Judge – Quality control character
MADMAN – Brainstorming
Material form – Memory, research, observation, conversations, reasoning, speculation and imagination.
Gathering ideas and facts upfront will help you push through and defuse anxiety about writing.
Create a rough spreadsheet
- Labels – Points you are trying to support
- Data, facts and opinions, you’re recording under each point
- Your Sources – Include title number, page number, URL etc.
Distinguish facts from opinions – be sure to give credit where it is due.
ARCHITECT – As the architect, organize the madman’s raw material into sensible outline.
CARPENTER – Write as quickly as possible without worrying about perfecting your prose.
JUDGE – Edit, Polish & Improve the Piece. Do this in several distinct passes.
Before writing in earnest, jot down your three main points – in complete sentences.
Write down our three main points as full sentences, and spell out your logic as clearly as you can.
First put your Madman hat and brainstorm a list of considerations.
Second start architect phase of writing and categorizing in threes.
Third – Begin carpenter work – Writing.
Write in full – rapidly
Write your draft as quickly as possible
Time yourself – Speed writing – Allow yourself five to ten minutes to draft each section – opener, boy and closer – SET TIME ON YOUR COMPUTER OR PHONE
Don’t Edit as you go – Keep Judge from getting in your way
Don’t wait for Inspiration – Schedule a time for “CARPTNETER” to work and when that time comes begin.
If you find yourself stuck, move to a different section you’re more comfortable with and come back to the problem once you’ve found your flow.