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Work At Home Business Opportunity

Last Build Date: Fri, 03 Oct 2014 04:43:40 +0000


Being John DocReader

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 17:41:00 +0000

You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.****************************************************************Being John BookReaderby Michael KnowlesWhen was the last time that you chose to stand in the shoes ofyour reader. If you never use your imagination to put you there,how do you know that you're writing for the right audience?Answer: You don't.The only difference between a bad writer and a good one (beyondissues of basic mechanics) is that the good writer always keepsan image of a single, specific reader in her mind. The writerdevelops this image and focuses on it in all stages of a writingproject. I believe that the ability to write for a specificreader is a practice that makes great technical writingpossible.It is our divining rod.I happened across a document this week that purported to be aquick-start guide for a piece of lifesaving medical equipment.This guide was 59 pages long. And the actual operatinginstructions for this reasonably simple unit began on page 22.Folks, that is not a quick-start guide.Now, I do not for one minute believe that the writers of thisparticular document lacked writing skills. They didn't. Nor do Ibelieve that they lacked an audience analysis; I'm sure they didone. What they did lack was the image of an audience member --the image of a specific person. The veil lifts when we do that,and we see our work in a different light. We approach itdifferently.Imagine the clarity that would occur if, say, the writers of IRStax forms and instructions imagined themselves to be somespecific person -- say, your Uncle Henry, an auto mechanic whodreads the very thought of doing his tax return. The writers, ifgood writers they be, would create a far clearer set ofinstructions because they developed empathy for a singleaudience member. And Uncle Henry would likely not dread thedoing of his tax return quite so much because the materialswould be understandable.Perhaps even a little more human.We forget that our work is read by humans with real problems,who have better things to do than read our work. Sorry to burstyour bubble, but it's true. Let's do these humans the service ofseeing them for who they are: people who need to get animportant task done without aggravation.Please don't read this as a call for the elimination of audienceanalysis from the writing process. An audience analysis is thebeginning of focus. And the end point is Uncle Henry, who wantsto retain the few hair follicles he has left on his head. Notadd them to the sack of dough he must send to his Uncle Sam.Putting yourself into the readers shoes requires effort. Itforces you to take on what may be unfamiliar roles. In a way, itis playacting.Sounds like fun to me. And I for one can use all the fun I canget.Copyright (c) 2002 Michael Knowles. All Rights Reserved.About the Author:Michael Knowles is a business writer and publisher ofwww. . He shows business professionals how towrite with power and clarity. Visit his professional site at for a free consultation.[...]