Why Do We Write?
Whether you write business letters, proposals, reports, or any other business messages, you will be glad you read this book. Even better, everyone who reads what you write will be glad you read it, because business readers today have neither the time nor the patience to decode a message that doesn't get right to the point. Getting to the point means getting your point—your idea, proposal, or request—into the mind of your reader.
You may not realize it, but you practice mental telepathy every day. When you write, you transmit your thoughts to others, using nothing but a bunch of little symbols on paper or a computer screen. Only human beings can convey meaning through words. Even the smartest dolphin or gorilla could not come close to doing what you could do in the second grade. The purpose of this book is to help you use words to carry your ideas into your reader's mind as clearly and quickly as possible. Get to the Point will help you clarify your meaning and choose the words that will reach into the minds of your readers.
How to Use This Book
You can read each of these business-writing tips on its own, leaf through the book at random, or look up a point that particularly interests you. You can also read the book straight through from beginning to end. However you decide to use it, this book will guide you through the real process of writing—from the moment when you feel the urge to run screaming from the task, through the process of envisioning and then crafting your message, to helping you correct grammar, punctuation, style, and flow.
The book begins with a section on managing your mind. If your mind freezes at the prospect of writing, you're going to have a hard time getting to the point. After offering you practical tools for overcoming writer's block and procrastination, Part Two gives you specific, flexible tools you can use to establish a plan for communicating your message successfully. You will see that identifying your purpose, your reader, and your main point before you begin to write will give you the jump-start you need. Part Three provides powerful techniques to help you structure your information effectively. Part Four covers format—the essential information you need in order to dress your documents for success. Part Five offers you ten ways to build strong sentences. Part Six helps you choose the right words to use—and spot the words to delete.
Parts Seven and Eight cover the subject that most writing books put first: grammar and punctuation. Rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation are certainly important. However, the success of your writing depends far more on your ability to focus your thoughts, overcome your fears, and pour out sentences that will carry your meaning to your reader. If you become too focused on the rules, you might lose track of the feelings and ideas that you originally intended to convey. I've put the section on grammar and punctuation after the sections on planning, organizing, and generating a first draft so that you can write first and worry later.
Part Nine helps you develop the ability to “re-vise”—literally, to see your work again and to adapt it to the perspective of your reader. Part Ten is a sampling of words and phrases that are commonly misused, along with several principles that you can apply to prevent yourself from making these embarrassing mistakes.