Writing Can Be Murder

January 8, 2008

Writing for the audience

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 4:17 pm

The other day I was doing some nonfiction writing (yes, I know, you were under the impression that I spend ALL my time torturing and killing people).  I was trying to rewrite a statement from a nationally known organization about one service some of their members provide for the general public.

The piece I was working from was, ostensibly, written for the general public, but it was filled with such clinical terms and language, that I felt as though I was translating from a foreign language. The person (or I’m guessing since it was FUBAR, the COMMITTEE) that composed this message had no idea who their audience was. It was written as though it was an in-house document to be shared by peers. It was stilted, and strangely worded, and so full of cover-your-ass terminology, that this document, which in some respects was supposed to be a sales pitch, was a total turn-off.

I started chanting “Know thy audience” “Know thy audience” (the dog and bird hung on my every word).

So my message today, for everyone, regardless of what you write, is “KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!”


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