I woke up wondering…

…did I write forward or foreword? And wouldn’t you know it, I had written one when I had meant the other. The blunder happened in an email to Amanda, a colleague and friend who is an amazing editor. Embarrassed  I followed up with a note to her. This kind of thing keeps me humble.

Writers bring different skills and strengths to projects. Some writers are the embodiment of The Elements of Style. They can spot a misplaced modifier as easily most people can spot a piece of spinach in someone’s teeth. They know where a stronger verb and a re-worked sentence structure will make a paragraph sing. Let’s call them the engineers. Some writers shine in their ability to think, analyze and give logical form and flow to their work. They know how to build an argument. Let’s call them the lawyers. Others totally get the human condition. They have their fingers smack dab on the pulse of cultural and human behaviour. They are the people who can walk into a room and instantly pick up on the emotional undercurrents. Let’s call them the psychologists.

Which kind of writer are you? Engineer. Lawyer. Psychologist. My list, in order of strengths: lawyer/psychologist and engineer. Being aware of my strengths help me to know where to pay attention. I am vigilant about the less dominant side, which means my published and my client work pass through an editor/proofreader before they are released. This is so that I don’t end up with forward and I mean foreword. Colleagues with technical vigor tend to seek feedback on the strength of their argument.

The case for supports exists in the realm of rhetoric. Rhetoric is defined as the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. In a me-and-consumer-centered society the case for support has a challenging job to do. It needs to persuade people to part with their hard-earned money, money they can give to their children or grandchildren, spend on a vacation, or direct to the charity down the street. When I think of rhetoric at its finest, I think of Martin Luther King Jr. and his defining speech, I have a dream. His words moved a nation and changed the world. Like King’s speech, a case for charitable support presents a vision, which at its best moves people to action and changes the world for good, be it for a few or many.

If you are assigning a case project to a writer or training someone for the role, look for his or her writing strengths in light of the areas defined here. Steer away from someone with strong technical skills who can’t make a convincing argument. Steer toward someone who can make a full and complete heartfelt argument, and send the draft to an excellent editor/proofreader.  [I’d be happy to make a recommendation.]

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