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Chapter 1. Introduction > Start at the Beginning

Start at the Beginning

Learning to write well is a three-stage process. One stage is learning the fundamentals: grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Stage two is developing an effective writing style. Once you learn the fundamentals, you will want to move on to this second stage and learn how to send clear and expressive messages. You may work on the problem of wordiness, for example, or think about word choice—whether a simple word or a fancy one has the exact meaning you need. Stage three is the strategy stage. Here you perfect the skill of writing. When you are at this stage, you turn your attention to such matters as approach and format.

It is possible to work on all three stages at once. But beginning writers should start at the beginning. Do the things you need to do first before you worry about “the finishing touches.” Maybe you are not a beginning writer. Maybe you have been using the English language all your life, but for one reason or another, there are gaps in your knowledge. Maybe you are a pretty good speller, but your knowledge of proper grammar and punctuation rules is shaky. Or maybe your grammar usage is good, but you are a poor speller. In any case, a review of the fundamentals will be a helpful first step. This book is concerned primarily with the first stage, the fundamentals. By studying it and completing the exercises conscientiously, you will be building a base for further writing improvement.


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