Introduction

To write anything, you really need to know five things:

  • your content, including jargon,
  • who your audience is and what they need,
  • appropriate grammar, style and level of formality,
  • the structures and conventions of your text,
  • how to use the most effective process.

Some people manage this knowledge so effortlessly and have a knack for written language—they are the ones who we say have talent.  And many people are tempted to say that they don’t have talent, so they can’t write.  That is not true at all. Although not everyone has a natural talent for writing, anybody can learn the skills needed to communicate effectively in writing.  That is what we are offering here.

Knowledge of content comes from effective research and prewriting.  Audience analysis can help you explore what your readers know, believe and need to know, along with the appropriate style for your writing.  Outline templates help you understand the structures and conventions of different genres of writing.  Finally, if you choose to follow the process—prewriting, organizing, drafting, revising and editing—you can write more effective papers.

Once you get your ideas on paper and organize them, the finishing touch is correct grammar.  Careful editing is important—though for many people it is tedious and difficult.  You’ll probably be happy to know that good writers don’t need to memorize every rule of grammar, though. They need to pay close attention to what is on the page, strive for clarity, and look up the correct form for anything that doesn’t seem right. Often writers need to read their work out loud and get somebody else to double-check their grammar.  At Writer’s Alley, we hope to provide resources to make this process easier and more effective for teachers and students of writing.

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