The course: Writing with Style (now called Writing Well: Style)
This course was dedicated to improving the style of our business writing. I had never considered style when writing work emails or documents. I usually just wrote whatever I thought sounded formal and professional. It was eye-opening to see the way I could improve the style of my writing with a few small tweaks.
Many of the techniques we learned were ones I was already familiar with in the context of creative writing. For example, we learned about using the active voice and cutting dead wood from our sentences. However, I had never tried applying these techniques to my business writing. I was amazed to see how many extra words and passive constructions I was including in my emails.
One of the most interesting tips I learned in this class was the strategy of opening a sentence with known information before flowing into something new. I had never thought of writing sentences that way. I still find it a useful strategy when I am revising my writing and notice that the transitions feel awkward.
For this assignment, we were asked to use the principles we had learned to revise an older piece of our own writing. I chose an email I actually sent to coworkers advertising a fundraiser by my choir.
I used humour and conversational language to connect with my coworkers and build goodwill. Because the focus of the class was on style, I varied my sentence structure and length, and made many of my verbs active. I used the old-new construction discussed above to make the information easier for readers to process.
I made extensive revisions to my original draft. One of my first steps was to break the information into shorter paragraphs with more cohesive themes. That reduced the risk that readers would be overwhelmed by a block of text and choose to ignore the email.
I also provided more information about my choir and the benefits that the fundraiser would provide. I even added a link to my choir’s website so those who were interested could learn more. Because I was trying to convince colleagues to spend money, it was crucial to show them why they should care.
In addition, I emphasized how easy it would be to order online. By emphasizing the ease, I removed one of the possible roadblocks that would prevent people from engaging with the offer.
Finally, I made the deadline more obvious by placing it in a shorter paragraph and bolding the text. The bold text catches the reader’s eye and reminds them that they should take action.