Challenging and Stimulating Four-Part Exercise
By Annette Rey
Figuring my own taxes consumes my mind and time so I did not make a post last weekend. But I think I have a contribution that will allow you to forgive me for that neglect. Where I am frugal and couldn’t bear to pay a tax preparer to do my taxes, I willingly spend money toward improving my writing. I have purchased DVD sets from Great Courses and suggest writers look into this resource.
Recently I revisited my DVD set Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write About Anything presented by Professor Dorsey Armstrong. Following is an exercise from disk one, Lesson 5, Knowing Your Reader.
1) Write about the death of your uncle for a newspaper obituary.
2) Write a letter to a good friend of yours who met your uncle a few times, informing him of the death of your uncle
3) Write a letter to a scholarship committee that you want to convince to create a scholarship in your uncle’s memory
4) Write a letter to an old navy buddy of your uncle’s who hasn’t yet heard of his death
Each of these audiences require a different tone of voice and different information submitted. For instance, the navy buddy would appreciate hearing that your uncle shared stories with you about how he enjoyed drinking with his buddy and about the night they got tattoos together. This information would not be appropriate to include in the letter to the scholarship committee. Rather, in that letter, you would want to focus on your uncle’s bravery in battle.
In creating each of these submissions you need to identify the audience you are wanting to reach, and by your tone create that audience, and respect the type of each audience for which you are writing. The obituary is directed toward a general audience whereas the scholarship committee is composed of particularly educated people and the tone should be more formal. Using slang or a chatty tone in this instance would be disrespecting that audience. Construct your writing to secure the type of responses you want from your audience. Shape your writing to succeed at your writing goals.
This exercise will help you hone your ability to identify and write for different audiences. Exercising your flexibility as a writer will further your writing skills, no matter what type of writing you are engaged in at this time.
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