Just a Day at the Office: Writing Tips and Tricks

Creative Commons Kris Krug
Not me! This is Creative Commons Kris Krug

Something happened at work today that really highlighted why it’s important to know your reader when you’re writing no matter what it is that you’re writing. The incident is completely in line with what we’ve been talking about in articles like Building a Reader (the beginning stages of building a reader) and Becoming Frankenstein (developing your ideal reader).

Just in case you didn’t know, I spend my daytime hours working with researchers of every stripe. My official title is research development specialist, but that’s just a short way to say I help write grants and other material that allows researchers to continue their work and make it public.

So, on to what happened today. One of these researchers has completed a really amazing study and wants to let the world know about it. Like most researchers, this individual wrote a brilliant article detailing his work and the results from it. Other scientists who read it will love it.

When he came to me, this friend thought he’d submit essentially the same article to popular science magazines.

See the problem yet?

In the popular science magazines, my friend will find a less academic but still interested general audience – if he writes in a way that gains their interest. The written language this friend uses to talk to his fellow scientists is not exactly the easy reading folks expect in the popular mags.

When I asked him about his intended audience, my friend just gave me a baffled look. What on earth did I mean?

Obviously, anyone interested in science would be interested in this research. On the other hand, not everyone is willing to read through the academic-speak to know what he discovered.

To be considered by the popular science magazines, my friend needed to change the way he presented his information, starting with the press release he intended to send to the journalists who decide which articles to print.

Whatever you write, whether it’s an essay for an English assignment, a report for business, or your own fictional story, don’t forget to consider your reader, the kind of language they speak, and what kind of information will mean something to them.

Wendy Strain

My entire life is full of writing and creativity. Whether copywriting for exciting new projects, crafting web content for creative companies, ghostwriting, editing, coaching, or exploring my own imagination as a fiction writer, I am constantly engaged in stretching boundaries and exploring possibilities.

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7 thoughts on “Just a Day at the Office: Writing Tips and Tricks

  1. These are all useful steps to become a good and a professional writer in the future. Uncovering all of the good techniques in doing different writings will be good for it brings advantage to us of doing a very unique writings as well.

  2. I too was baffled when – after telling my friend AmyBeth about a story I was excited working on – she asked “Who’s the audience?”
    What do you mean? Won’t everyone just LOVE this story?
    I was surprised when she asked the age of the main character and when I answered “Sixteen,” her reply was “Then it’s a young adult book.”
    What? But I write for me and I’m a 30-something, how can only teenagers enjoy this book?
    Though I don’t plan on changing the style of the story at all, I have realized that I likely *am* writing a YA story as I strive to attribute very real thoughts, emotions and struggles to my sixteen year old heroine – all things a high schooler would be dealing with. Plus the non-threatening novella length (about 40,000 words total) won’t be too daunting a read.

    Though I continue to write stories *I’ll* enjoy, it *is* good to keep in mind who a publisher would likely market the story to.

    1. Good points, Gwen. Just because you have defined *a* reader group doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to others. But knowing who that primary reader is will help you build a much more convincing story.

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