Saturday, August 06, 2005

Use the Dialogue Approach in Your Writing

One technique to focus readers--and yourself--on the content of your message is to use the dialogue approach. Imagine handing your document to your reader, who asks, "What are you giving me?" What would be your answer?
  1. If it were a proposal to hire a new intern for the summer, you might say, "This review of our human resources in the audit division provides the rationale for employing an additional intern from May 31 through September 2."
  2. Say you are writing to request a refund of your laptop computer during its warranty period. You would respond, "I am requesting a full refund of your UCOMP357 in accordance with the terms of the warranty."
  3. A summary of your last team meeting would begin, "This is a summary of the ACE Team's last strategic meeting on August 3."
  4. Perhaps it's your response to a customer request for a credit, in which case you could start, "We are responding to your credit request of July 31, 2005."
The opening purpose statement should ground the reader in the context of your message. Better yet, it should ground you during the composing process. Knowing that sentence helps you to determine what else you need to write--and not write--in the sentences that follow it. Do not underestimate the importance of a purpose statement!