Monday, December 29, 2014

Recorded Webinars Available at Online Compliance Panel

  In 2014, I recorded four webinars with Online Compliance Panel, a web-based information exchange forum. The recordings of those programs are available at its website:

These webinars are inexpensive investments for cultivating your writing skills. You can write Phil Vassallo with questions about them. All the best with your writing!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A New Association, A New Webinar

I am pleased to begin an association with Audio Solutionz, a web-based training firm, which will present my webinar Business Writing for Financial Professionals on January 14, with others to follow.

The webinar is divided in four parts. The first focuses on creating a solid structure with helpful formatting devices. The second part looks at emphasizing key points through solid paragraphing and highlighting the relevance of data by transitions. Part three gets down to the sentence level, offering useful editing tips for fluency and clarity. The program concludes with helpful suggestions on word choice. The examples come from the banking world, but any business writer is likely to learn something of value at this event.

To enroll, click here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Writing Tips from Master Writers

The Gotham Writers website has a nice page of writing tips from more than 20 master writers. Many of them are inspirational: P. D. James says,  "Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to writershowever happy, however tragicis ever wasted." Some are revelatory: Kurt Vonnegut says, "Start as close to the end as possible," and Jack Kerouac says, "Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition." Others are challenging: Elmore Leonard recommends, "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip." Some are practical: Zadie Smith tells us to, "Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it," and Annie Proulx says, "Develop craftsmanship through years of wide reading." Still others are hypocritical: one of my favorite authors, George Orwell, says in 13 words, "If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out," when he could have said it in 8 ("If you can cut a word, then do") or even 3 ("Cut needless words"). 

Happy reading!

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Reading-Writing Continuum, Step 10: Write to Perfect the Message

Proofreading concludes the Reading-Writing Continuum, the model that the underscores the inextricable connection between reading and writing. In this final moment of the process, we correct the errors that we detected during a final review of the draft.

I never tell people who find writing so hard that it is natural or easy; writing is a challenge, one that I enjoy but that many do not. Understanding the Reading-Writing Continuum will help writers employ a workable system as they develop their skills. We should write a lot to become good or better writers, but we also must read a lot to become excellent ones.

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Reading-Writing Continuum, Step 9: Read to Find Overlooked Mistakes

In the Reading-Writing Continuum, our message has gone through a lot: planning (steps 1, 2 and 3), drafting (step 4), revising (steps 5 and 6), and editing (steps 7 and 8). We have checked our writing for content structure, clarity, conciseness, grammar, and punctuation. But in the process of making a revision here and an edit there, we might have created new mistakes, so it's now time to read for overlooked mistakes.

We would not want to depend solely on spell-check to catch all these mistakes, as some of them have nothing to do with language but with uniformity of spacing within and among sections, consistency of alignment and color, and accuracy of numbers. Yet some errors may relate to language, such as spelling of names and wrong words that pass spell-check.