When (and how) to end

Ending a document (or a chapter or a section) can be troublesome How do you tie all the ideas together and come to some conclusion How do you give readers a sense that the document is coming to a closeAnd then there are questions about the placement of ideas Is this the best place for the main idea The final thought The real take-home messageIf you're writing a novel, maybe you want to build up to a dramatic conclusion My children love Enid Blyton novels, and she's a master of a...

Read more

Sound structure = sound document core

As a writer and editor, I spend a lot of time thinking about the structure of documents A poorly structured document can create so many problems for readers  ideas that belong together may not be presented together, ideas may not be introduced in a logical order, and important concepts may be explained in the wrong placeWhen I edit the work of others, it's the structure that I focus on most As I read through a draft document, I put together a brief document map (a few-word...

Read more

2 space or not 2 space

When you write, are you a double spacer or a single spacer That is, do you leave two spaces after a full stop, or just oneIf any question is guaranteed to start an argument in a writing discussion, it's this one People who learned to type on typewriters (remember them) tend to advocate strongly for two spaces People who have actually been taught wordprocessing (and they're few and far between) prefer to use one And then of course, there are people who don't know, don't care, and don't...

Read more

When nouns become verbs

I've never been completely comfortable with nouns that transform into verbs I've learned to put up with 'impact' and 'action' The Telstra person I was speaking to today continually promised to 'action my request', and I barely grimaced I just hope that she really does follow through!But when did 'message' become a verb This morning I received this 'Sorry to message you so late 'Yes, I know, it's all part of the way that language develops And part of the beauty of English is our ability to do...

Read more

Communicating in the face of disasters

Last Saturday's 'Background Briefing' on ABC Radio National was about disasters - how to plan for them, how to manage them, and how to communicate about them The conversation about the benefits (or otherwise) of centralised control during disasters and about the benefits (or otherwise) of spreading insurance risk was fascinating But what really caught my attention was the conversation about disaster communicationFrom the perspective of clear communication, three comments stood out for me:The...

Read more

Getting started

February always seems like a good time to start new ventures The year is still young, for me work is quite scarce, and there's time to think about doing new things Last February I launched The Writing Circle, a Brisbane-based network of workplace writing groups We've got two groups meeting regularly to talk about ways to improve our workplace writing And while I'm the facilitator of these groups, I'm finding that I learn an enormous amount from all of the participants The groups have...

Read more