Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Structure Rules!

My book The Art of E-mail Writing is built on 21 maxims, one of them being “structure rules.” With a solid sense of structure, writers can communicate multiple items to diverse audiences and systematically convey the most complex issues to the least informed readers.

I was illustrating this point in a writing class by pointing to the strong organization of a participant’s writing sample. Another participant, Julie Wang, an underwriter from the Provident Bank, summarized the critique beautifully when she said, “Structure has no language.”

What a terrific thought! Good structure transcends language skills. Without first knowing the best order to convey the many ideas that reader needs to know, we’re just wasting our time trying to create good sentences, which may be meaningless to our purpose. Get the structure in order first, and then elaborate.