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Chapter 3. Pack the Essentials > Crowd Control: Audience - Pg. 26

Pack the Essentials 26 The memo would have an upbeat, positive tone to convince people that playing softball on the company team would be jolly fun. You'd use your facts and details to convince your readers that joining the team would help improve their health and be great for company morale and camaraderie. The newspaper article, in contrast, would have a direct, informative tone and be filled with statistics about hits, runs, and errors. Your purpose for writing is your reason for writing. The four main purposes for writing are the same as the four types of writing you learned about in Chapter 2, "The Write Way": to persuade, to en- tertain, to explain, and to describe. The primary purpose of Exhibit B, the writing sample that opened this chapter, is to explain. It also entertains by using vivid details and examples. Sometimes your purpose is defined by the task: A resumé, for example, always tries to persuade. A short story, however, would be designed to entertain. Keeping your purpose firmly in mind as you write helps you achieve your desired aim. Crowd Control: Audience People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Repeat this as you write, and you'll be more likely to remember that no matter what you write, you always have a specific audience in mind. Your audience are the people who are reading your writing. Look back to the beginning of this chapter. Exhibit A falls flat on its face in part be-cause the writer didn't aim at a specific audience. Phrases such as "white guys," "neat stuff," and "real cool things" suggest an MTV audience. But "official reference books" and "ceremonial priest" suggest an older and more sophisticated readership. Exhibit B, on the other hand, is clearly aimed at educated read- ership. It has complex sentence structure and elevated diction and assumes a certain level of knowledge. Sometimes you will have a clearly identified audience: your boss, your coworkers, the members of a service organization. I know that this book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well , is aimed at a general reading public. (That's you, Pinky!) You're part of an educated elite who frequently reads newspapers, books, and magazines. You attend movies and concerts, too, and are culturally knowl- edgeable. You have some general information about the subject of writing, but you enjoy having a chance to learn something new or to see the topic from a different perspective. Writer's Block Don't assume that if you're writing for yourself you don't have an audience. You do--it's you. Other times, however, your audience won't be as easy to identify. You may be sending a resumé and cover letter for a job identified only by the most general description and a post office box, for example. In these situations, it's even more crucial to get a handle on who will be reading your words. Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You To help you pinpoint your audience, ask yourself the following questions every time you prepare to write a document.