Writing skills rely on you, the writer, to know your purpose and audience, use appropriate language and sentence structure to convey your meaning. The words you choose and the structure you use influence the response of the reader not only to the content of your writing but their feelings about you as a writer.
These two statements help to demonstrate some of the characteristics of good writing. Good writing:
-has a simple, clear and direct message
-is easily understood by the audience for which it is intended.
It is useful to develop good writing skills because:
-the reader has no doubts about the writer’s meaning and purpose;
-the reader doesnt have to waste time re-reading to try and understand;
Good writing facilitates the communication process. Here are some suggestions that will help you to develop better writing skills:
-have a clear purpose
-use appropriate sentence structure and grammar
-use appropriate diction and style
We shall now examine these skills in more detail.
Only a few people write just because they feel like it! Most do so for a specific reason. There is a particular message that you they want to get to a particular audience. All good writing has a clear purpose – one that is clear to the reader. Your purpose will influence the types of words that you choose, the structure of what you are writing and will help you to think about what your reader needs to know to get your message clearly. If you are not clear about your purpose, then it is likely that the reader will also be confused and may misunderstand what you intend.Before you begin to write, ask yourself, what is this message intended to do? Some possible answers to that question are to:
-express an opinion, whether supportive or hostile
-arouse emotions – sense of security, sense of outrage etc.
Can you think of any others?
You may have more than one purpose in mind when you write. It may be to inform and entertain or to persuade and arouse emotions of outrage. Another way of looking at this aspect, the purpose of what I write, is to consider the reader. Ask yourself, what do I want my readers to know or understand or be able to do when they have read my message? What do I want them to get from what I write?The best place to seek examples of the different purposes for writing can be seen in the newspaper.
Sentence structure and grammar
Lets examine the second of our writing skills, which is about using appropriate sentence structure and grammar. Although we use the same words when we speak, we need to be far more careful when we write. The speaker can watch his audience to see reaction, repeat and rephrase his statement and use gestures and body language to emphasise and clarify.Writing is more restricted. It has to be more organised and the writer must make sure he says exactly what he wants to say and that his reader understands. To do so he must rely on punctuation marks, paragraphs and other such markers, but his main source is the written word.
The basis of good writing is correct sentence structure. Words alone do not convey meaning. They must be arranged according to a set of rules called grammar. The words and the way they are arranged convey meaning.It is much easier to read and understand when poor language or incorrect grammar does not distract us.
Poor grammar leaves a poor impression.
Lets spend some time now examining correct sentence structure and basic grammar.
What is a sentence?
A sentence is a group of words
-that means something by itself
-that has a subject and a verb.
Once the writing stops, the job is not over. It is just as important to spend time in the review of your writing. This is the third skill that good writers use. This means re-reading, correcting spelling mistakes, changing grammar and sentence structure to make your meaning clearer. If you are able to, it is useful to have a friend or colleague whose opinion you trust read the item for you and give you some feedback.
They will be able to tell you:
-if your writing is clear and easily understood
-about any problems with grammar or spelling
-if your writing style and organisation of content are suitable.
If you are using a computer to write, DONT rely on the computer spelling check program to check your work for accuracy. You may have spelled a word correctly but used it in the wrong place, and the spelling check will not necessarily find this error. Look at this example: A spell check is a useful tool but it will not solve all your problems. Pour spellers will still be in trouble with there instructions.
Appropriate use of language
This is the fourth and last of the skills that good writers use. It seems every occupation or profession has its own jargon or internal language. Jargon may be technical terms that apply specifically to trade, or a way of expressing messages that is traditional to some professions. The legal profession, for example, seems to enjoy complicated and sometimes old-fashioned expressions. Look at the statement from a health insurance policy: What does it really mean? A second reading of the following example may reveal the awkward wording it contains:
Benefits are paid if an insured employee or eligible dependent incurs covered charges because of pregnancy. Reimbursement for hospital and out-of-hospital maternity charges will be made on the same basis as for any non-maternity condition covered made the plan. Wouldn’t it have been better to say “If you or one of your insured family members becomes pregnant, the Plan will pay for medical care as it does for any other medical condition? Be aware of the jargon you are using and the audience who will read it. Will they understand? Can you use a different term or should you make sure you explain new terms as they arise? If you are reading a book that contains a lot of technical language or jargon, check whether the book has a Glossary of Terms. A glossary gives simple explanations of complex words or terms.
-In this section, we have dealt with the reasons for developing good writing skills and discussed the skills that can help achieve this.
-Good writing enhances the communication process.
-The characteristics of good writing are that it:
-has a simple, clear and direct meaning
-is easily understood by the reader
-Good writers develop good writing skills so that the reader:
-has no doubts about the meaning and purpose of the text
-doesnt have to waste time re-reading
-can respond appropriately to the writer and what is written
-People with good writing skills:
-have a clear purpose and state this purpose clearly
-use appropriate sentence structure and grammar
-proofread their work carefully
-use appropriate language