The Precepts of Writing
Every student has had a teacher who stated that all written assignments must address who, what, where, when, why, and how, but did you know those precepts are used before you ever write a word of your story?
Let us examine how they are used.
- WHO: You need to determine what audience you are writing for. Is it for family, play goers, sci-fi fans, professional peers, adults, children, men, women, or romantics etc.? Your audience will determine what your style of writing should be.
- A family newsletter might require an upbeat newsy approach
- A professor presenting an article for a professional magazine will need to offer facts and figures without embellishment
- Most colleges have a required style which, if ignored, results in an F
- WHAT: What subject are you writing about? What information do you need? Do you need to research anything to make the story flow and, in turn, help your audience believe what you have written?
- WHERE: Where do you plan on sharing this writing? Is it an ebook, a mailed letter, a manuscript sent to a publisher or a class assignment turned into a professor? This will determine the format that you use when your writing is finished. These include, but are not limited to, hard copies, cd's, letters, web sites or email.
- WHEN: What goals have you set for yourself to keep yourself on track? Are you going to write a chapter a week, two paragraphs a day, or did you set dates for different aspects or sections to be completed?
- WHY: Why are you writing? Is it because you feel driven to write? Do you need to be published to keep your employment or, joy of joys, your editor has given you a deadline to meet? This will determine the time line you have to do the job. Writing for the enjoyment of writing might result in finishing the piece earlier than a deadline would.
- HOW: This is the style of writing that is needed to appeal to your writers. If you are a student, you know whether you need to use an APA, MLB, or Chicago style. If you are writing a novel, the style may be dictated by what or whose perspective you are writing from. The style for a family newsletter would be determined by the type of content you are sharing.
What you are writing is determined by the combination of all the decisions you have made: who, what, where, when, why, and how you need to write, You have chosen the style you will use, the market you are trying to get into, the subject you are writing about, the format, and finally the time line or goals needed to finish it.
Remember all those things you learned in composition class, use all the precepts that you were taught, and enjoy writing it!
-- Copyright 2009, Linda Hillman
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