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    Chapter 05 Planning, Composing,

    and Revising

    Good Writers Composing Activities Half-Truths

    Ten Ways to Make Writing Easier to Read Revise, Edit, and Proofread


    Ways Good Writers Write

    Revise first drafts Write regularly Break big jobs into small chunks Focus on purpose, audience Choose from several different strategies Use rules flexibly Finish a draft before editing text


    Basic Composing Activities: Planning

    Analyze problem, define purposes, analyze audiences Brainstorm information to include Gather information Select the points you want to make Choose organization pattern

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    Basic Composing Activities: Writing

    Put ideas into words on paper or screen • Make a list • Develop headings • Jot notes • Do stream-of-

    consciousness writing • Create drafts


    Basic Composing Activities: Revising

    Evaluate in terms of audience, goals, and situation • Will audience understand it? • Is it complete? • Is it convincing? Friendly? Get feedback from someone else Add, delete, substitute, or rearrange single words or large sections


    Basic Composing Activities: Editing

    Focus on surface of message • Standard English

    Grammar and spelling Capitalization and punctuation

    • Business principles Build goodwill Use conventional format

    Proofread; correct typographical errors

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    More About Composing Activities

    Don’t have to do in specific order Don’t have to finish one to start another Don’t have to use all activities for every message


    Half-Truths about Style

    1. Write as you talk 2. Never use I 3. Never use You 4. Never begin sentence with And or But 5. Never end sentence with preposition 6. Big words impress people 7. Never use sentences with more than 20

    words, or paragraphs with more than 8 lines



    Write as You Talk: Yes . . . But

    Yes • Do it for first draft • Read draft aloud to test But • Expect awkward, repetitive, badly organized

    prose • Plan to revise and edit

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    Never Use I: Yes . . . But

    Yes • I can make writing seem self-centered • I can make ideas seem tentative But • Use I to tell what you did, said, saw—it’s



    Never Use You: Yes . . . But

    Yes • Writing to familiar audiences • Describing audience benefits • Writing sales text But • Avoid in formal reports or other situations

    where formality is required • Negative news: Don’t connect the reader.


    Never Begin Sentence with And or But

    And may make idea seem like afterthought And gives effect of natural speech But serves as a signpost, signals a shift But can make writing smoother

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    Never End a Sentence with a Preposition: Yes . . . But

    Yes • A preposition may not be worth

    emphasizing this way • Readers expect something to follow a

    preposition • Avoid in job application letters, reports,

    formal presentations But • OK now and then


    Big Words Impress People: Yes . . . But

    Yes • You may want to show formality or

    technical expertise But • Big words distance you from audiences • Big words may be misunderstood • Misused words make you look foolish


    Never Use Sentences With More Than 20 Words, or Paragraphs With More Than 8 Lines

    Yes • Sometimes long sentences and paragraphs

    can be difficult to read But • Long sentences with parallel clauses may

    be clear • Longer paragraphs with bulleted lists may

    be clear • Use the expectations of your audience,

    context, and purpose

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    Ten Ways to Make Your Writing Easy to Read

    As you choose words— 1. Use accurate, appropriate, and familiar

    words 2. Avoid technical jargon; eliminate

    business jargon


    Ten Ways to Make Your Writing Easy to Read, continued…

    As you write and revise sentences— 3. Use active voice most of the time 4. Use verbs—not nouns—to carry weight of

    sentence 5. Eliminate wordiness 6. Vary sentence length and structure 7. Use parallel structure 8. Put readers in your sentences


    Ten Ways to Make Your Writing Easy to Read, continued…

    As you write and revise paragraphs— 9. Begin most with topic sentence 10.Use transitions to link ideas

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    1. Use Accurate, Appropriate Words

    Denotation—literal meanings; dictionary definitions • Bypassing—two people using same word

    to mean different things; causes mix-ups Connotation—emotional association; attitude

    - / + nosy / curious fearful / cautious obstinate / firm tax / user fee


    2. Use Familiar Words

    Words most people know Words that best convey your meaning Shorter, more common words Specific, concrete words


    2. Use Short, Simple Alternatives

    Stuffy Simple reside live commence begin enumerate list finalize finish, complete utilize use

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    2. Avoid Jargon—Mostly

    Jargon—special terms of technical field • Use in job application

    letters • Use when essential and

    known to audience • Replace with plain

    English, when possible


    2. Omit Business Jargon & Clichés

    Businessese—needless, old-fashioned wording, overused tired expressions Example Alternative Enclosed please find Here is As per your request As you asked I acknowledge receipt of (begin reply) The undersigned Me


    3. Use Active Voice

    Active—subject of sentence does action the verb describes: Used most in business writing.

    Passive—subject is acted upon • Usually includes form of “to be” verb • Change to active if you can • Direct object becomes subject

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    3. Passive vs. Active Voice

    P:The program will be implemented by the agencies.

    A:The agencies will implement the program.

    P:These benefits are received by you.

    A:You receive these benefits. P:A video was ordered. A:The customer ordered a video.


    3. Passive vs. Active Voice, continued…

    Active voice is better because— • Shorter • Clearer • More interesting Passive voice is better to—

    • Emphasize object receiving action • Give coherence by repeating

    word in previous sentence • Avoid placing blame


    4. Use verbs: Avoid hidden verbs

    Replace this phrase with a verb

    make an adjustment make a decision perform an examination take into consideration

    = adjust = decide = examine = consider

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    5. Eliminate Wordiness

    Wordy—idea can be said in fewer words Concise; a mark of good writing • Omit words that say nothing • Combine sentences to save

    words • Put the meaning in subject

    and verb


    5. Omit Words that Say Nothing

    Cut words if idea is clear without them • . . . period of three months • . . . at the present time Replace wordy phrases

    Not: Let me know as to whether or not we can start drilling in view of the fact that the problem has not been fixed at the present time.

    But: Let me know whether we can start drilling since the problem has not yet been fixed.


    Lard Factor

    Thomas Jefferson once observed that “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

    Fully 1/3 of a first draft is lard; hence, it can be cut out. Fun fact: • The Lord’s Prayer contains 66 words, the

    Gettysburg Address contains 267 words, but a recent government regulation on the sale of cabbage contains 26,911 words.

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    5. Combine Sentences to Save Words: Example

    • Infante projected sales of $43 million in the first quarter. Our actual sales have fallen short of that figure by $1.9 million.

    • Although Infante projected first-quarter sales of $43 million, actual sales are $1.9 million less than that.




    5. Put Meaning of Sentence in Subject & Verb: Example

    • The reason we are recommending the computerization of this process is because it will reduce the time required to obtain data and will give us more accurate data.

    • Computerizing the process will give us more accurate data more quickly.




    6. Vary Sentence Length and Structure

    Edit sentences for tightness Use short sentences when subject matter is complicated Use longer sentences to • Show how ideas link to each other • Avoid choppy sentences • Reduce repetition Group words into chunks Keep verb close to subject

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    7. Use Parallel Structure: Example

    During the interview, job candidates will • Take a skills test. • The supervisor will interview the prospective employee. • A meeting with recently hired workers will be held.

    During the interview, job candidates will • Take a skills test. • Interview with the supervisor. • Meet with recently hired workers.




    8. Put Readers in Your Sentences: Example

    An election to name a beneficiary other than the participant’s spouse must be made with spousal consent