Planning is the key first step in the writing process because it enables the writer to begin thinking about how the final product will be created and evaluated. It is the first step in establishing your accountability and reliability as a writer. Remember that when you are writing for a corporation or organization, your writing lives on as legal documentation and reference. Writers are no less responsible for accountability for their work than are lawyers and medical personnel. Solid planning leads to reliable final documents.
Skipping the pre-writing stage is like taking a vacation without first choosing a destination: If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you get there? Fortunately, pre-writing can take many forms, and there are strategies that suit every type of writer.
The strategies and processes used in the pre-writing stage not only help the writer formulate a topic and solidify ideas, they also serve as a kind of rehearsal for the rest of the writing process. As the writer uses the vocabulary associated with a particular topic, he or she becomes well-versed in the subject and is able to express ideas with more confidence, organization, and clarity. All of this brings to mind the old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer, of course: “Practice. Practice. Practice.”
Just as a musician must practice their instrument in order to achieve their goal, the practice undertaken during the pre-writing stage guides the writer toward a specific goal. That goal is to develop a well-defined topic that will eventually be couched in the language of a succinct thesis or hypothesis.Planning starts with audience reaction, which maps to an organizational structure for the document.
|Organization Block||Purpose||Notes for the Message|
|News||With a positively inclined receiver, the main idea is in the first paragraph, first sentence. The reader wants to know some and is receptive, so the writer should just say it:||credit due 3/31|
|Reasons||This is the body of the message that contains the detail supporting the news||"The Leadership Experience" duplicate received. Invoice attached. Credit processed against acct 234-2345|
|Goodwill and Action||Acknowledge and effort or relationship with the receiver. Confirm any commitments.||She sent clear detail. Should see on April statement.|
|Organization Section||Purpose||Notes to write message from....|
|Buffer||Starts the message by being on topic, but not clearly laying out the news. It is important to start neutrally so as to avoid getting the reader's expectations set to high.||Been a customer for many years.|
|Reasons||This is the body of the message that contains the detail supporting the news.
Reasons must have you-view. Avoid mentioning policy or rules as this just encourages the reader to escalate to a higher level of management.
|Very popular title. good quality takes time.|
|News||The bad news is stated directly, yet gently. Offer any offsetting news, if possible.
Avoid apologizing. It can bring on legal guilt in extreme situations. In many cases, the sender's company did nothing wrong. If truly necessary and in alignment with company policy, then apologize.
|book delayed by 7 days. focus on her receipt added free shipping.|
|Goodwill and Action||Avoid sounding trite but express interest in continuing the good relationship. Confirm the delivery date.||past good experiences. delivery april 5 Notice there is missing punctuation and capitalization. These are only notes, so those issues will be cleaned up in the following steps.|
|Subject Line||Regarding next Tuesday's meeting||Items to bring for Next Tuesday's meeting|
|First line of the message||Will you bring the pens and pencils?||Will you bring pens and pencils to next Tuesday's meeting?|
|Direct Message||Conference Dates||Please confirm conference dates|
|Negative Message||Problem!||Confirmation needed Order 3145|
|Persuasive Message||Need a Speaker||Speaking Opportunity for You|
|Buffer Topic||Sample||Reason for the "No"|
|Item of Agreement||Planning a 250 person wedding is quite an undertaking.||The larger ballroom is booked on that date.|
|Compliment||The American Cancer Society provides excellent support to the community of Centennial, MO.||The organization cannot fund the charity golf tournament this year.|
|Reasons||With the increase in interest rates, there is a decline of 5% in new client calls.||There are account reassignments planned.|
|April 23 is not available.||Rooms are available April 20–22 or April 24–29.|
|Snakes are not allowed on the plane.||Please see our pet policy that allows cats, dogs, and peacocks. (Add "only" if needed—only cats, dogs, and peacocks.)|
|Do not park in Lot C. It is being resurfaced.||While Lot C is resurfaced, Lots A and B should be used.||The direct object "you" is assumed with the instruction of "do not." Coupling a "you" with a "no" in the same sentence is likely to annoy or feel accusatory to the receiver, thus damaging the relationship. State what is possible rather than what is not.|
|I can't wait to help you.||I look forward to helping you.||Here is something the sender wants to do, but the example clouds the positive desire with the negative "can't." If you as the sender are eager, then be eager rather than confusing the issue with a negative.|
|The claim is forthcoming, however, another form is needed.||Another form is needed before the claim is processed.||"However" is frequently considered a negative word since it contradicts what comes before. The word "but" works in a similar fashion.|
|News||Need quote on security components|
|Detail||4 PCs, 2 printers, 1 wireless router. Need itemized cost, warranty/mtc, installations date|
|Goodwill and Action||2 year contract in place. Hope for April 15.|
|Comments on Section||As Written|
|First Paragraph: Start the message with the news. This is a positive message. Focus on the receiver and realize all she wants to know is "what do I need to do".
The message opens with a you-view. The "Please" is saying "you need to" but in a positive manner.
The main idea is easy to find. It is not hidden by unnecessary phrasing or preamble that does not advance the purpose of the message.
|Please provide a quote for updated security systems.|
|Second Paragraph: Using paragraphs respects the reader by providing white spacing thus making the message easier to read.
Paragraphs provide logical breaks to aid in understanding and retention.
Bullets do not exist except as part of a paragraph. There is the introduction to the paragraph and then the lists.
Lists are easier on the eyes through use of white space. They aid in retention. It will be easy for the receiver to mark off items as completed. List items are constructed in a parallel fashion.
|With your familiarity of our system, please maintain compatibility and quote for the following items.
In the response, please address the following questions:
|Final paragraph: Encourages the relationship with a specific note of goodwill. Provides a crisp reminder of the action needed.||Thank you for being so easy to work with over the past two years. If possible, please provide this quote by April 15. If it will be later, please call to let us know.|
|Buffer||Long relationship of mid-april conventions. Past relationship|
|Reasons||New personnel. Competitive month and rates|
|News||Conference date must move earlier or back one week|
|Goodwill and Action:||Discount. Must hear by March 5|
|Comments on Section||As Written|
|Buffer: First paragraph — Start the message with a note that relates to the message, one that both agree on.
Do not be so cheerful as to mislead the audience, nor set a dark tone that may cause additional trepidation in someone is about to be disappointed.
By not immediately confirming availability, the reader can begin to prepare for the upcoming news.
|Your organization has been a longtime partner of Aspen Lodge, and we have been honored to be your location of choice for your annual April conference. Thank you for your recent letter regarding next month's availability.|
|Reason: Second paragraph. It is so tempting to write reasons for a no from the perspective of the sender. "We are all full." "Company policy says." Reasons in a negative message offer the reader a way to see it from the writer's standpoint. If the message is well written, by the the time the "no" comes, the receiver will be in complete agreement.||With such a warm winter, your choice of Aspen Lodge remains one desired by many organizations eager to come west. The Lodge is always popular with local organizations due to the low off-season rates, which means facilities book quickly and early.|
|Reason continued: Either second or third paragraph.
Here is the hardest part of the message. The reader is likely anticipating being turned down by now. It is up to the sender to make the "no" clear, but not harsh. This may be done directly or with an Implied no.
This writing assumes the group always comes on and had requested the second weekend.
One key issue to watch out for when delivering negative messages in this way is that you might work to avoid negative words so intently that you make the message hard to understand. In this case, talking about the weekends that are available leaves the message pretty clear.
|With the second weekend already reserved, would you prefer the first or third weekend?|
|Final paragraph: Encourages the relationship with a specific note of goodwill. Provide a crisp reminder of the action needed.||Please call by Friday March 31st, to confirm which of the two remaining weekends best suit your needs. Aspen Lodge is booking quickly, and we hope to have good friends like ABC company here again this year. Because you have been such a loyal partner, we are offering a 5% discount for whichever weekend you do end up choosing.|
|Buffer / Attention||More diverse research participants in Manhattan and Newark|
|Reasons / Interest||A more diverse set of participants in two locations|
|News||We can't find enough qualified people in Manhattan, so we're adding our Newark location|
|Goodwill and Action:||Travel between locations on a deluxe chartered coach bus at no extra cost|
|Comments on Section||As Written|
|Buffer: First paragraph— Start the message with a note that relates to the message, one that both agree on.
Do not be so cheerful as to mislead the audience, nor set a dark tone that may cause additional anger in someone is about to be disappointed.
By starting with the good news, the writer can offset any disappointment or annoyance at the bad news.
|Thank you for entrusting us with this interesting and challenging recruit. We're calling on all of our experience to make sure we find you the best participants to meet your research needs and finding girls who not only meet the specifications but also represent a range of ethnicities and income levels.|
|Reasons: Second paragraph— It is so tempting to write reasons for a no from the perspective of the sender. "We are all full." "Company policy says." What reasons in a negative message do are to offer the reader a way to see it from the writer's standpoint. If well written by the the time the "no" comes the receiver will be in complete agreement.||As you've known from the start of the project, finding participants that meet your specifications was going to be difficult, and we are about halfway recruited. We have placed ads in the newspapers and online, and we have asked motocross courses to recommend members who might qualify.|
|Reasons continued: Either second or third paragraph—
Here is the hardest part of the message. The reader is likely anticipating some sort of bad news by now. It is up to the sender to make the difficulty clear but not harsh. Even with the Goodwill action, there's likely to be some annoyance on the part of the receiver.
|However, we seem to have stalled in finding people to come to our Manhattan facility. As we see it, we have two choices. We can relax the specifications, which might water down your data, or we can reach out to a partner company in Newark. Between the two facilities, we believe we can fully recruit your research study. As we discussed at the proposal stage, this will incur extra cost, and we recognize that you had not built travel to Newark into your schedule. Therefore, we have taken the liberty of reserving a deluxe coach bus and driver at our expense to move your team from their base in Manhattan to the facility in Newark on the days you will be there.|
|Final paragraph: Encourages the relationship with a specific note of goodwill. Provide a crisp reminder of the action needed.||Please let us know whether this solution is acceptable or whether you would like to loosen your participant specifications. Please also tell us whether we can help with anything else, including changing hotel accommodations using our corporate discount. We are very much looking forward to hosting you and your team for this groundbreaking research. If I hear from you by Wednesday morning, I can lock in whichever option you choose and move forward with the work.|
Revising is the rearrangement and fine tuning of a fully developed—if not totally completed—draft so that the thesis or hypothesis is aligned with the writer’s purpose, the audience’s needs and characteristics, the development of the argument, and the persuasive conclusion.
Revising, for many writers and teachers of writing, is the most critical step in any writing process. It is also the step that often frustrates many writers because it can be hard to maintain objectivity and focus when looking so closely at your own work.
Many writers find it beneficial at this stage to have someone else read the document they have been working on, since it is too close to the writer’s thoughts and emotions. Remember that when you ask someone for a critique of your work, you are not asking for praise for your brilliance but rather asking to have your work made even better and more effective for its purpose. Also keep in mind that just because someone makes a suggestion doesn't mean you have to accept it. Unless that person is your boss, of course.
The need to revise acknowledges the likely scenario that no one's writing is perfect as presented in the latest draft. Willingness to revise means that the writer recognizes the dynamic nature of communication and that revisions are required in order to clearly articulate ideas and meet the expectations of the audience. Effective written expression is the result of careful revisions.