Sunday, May 21, 2006

Workshop: Writing Papers (17 & 19 May 2006)

4 Key Things:
  1. Content - selection, stress
  2. Organisation & Structure
  3. Language - style, standard English
  4. Format & Presentation


  1. Readers
  2. Purpose
  3. Use
  4. Deadline


Day 1 Discussion Points

p7: Why do we have to write so much, and so well ?

Keypoint at the section: Information + Implication >>> Impression + Influence

(a) why is writing well important to your unit/organisation?

Writing is one of main channel of communication of ideas and proposals, etc to the others. Writing well is a means to communicate the intended message in the way it is intended to be perceived. Hence, being able to put in the necessary information and position it the way it will first bring in the audience's attention and to sustain their interest, and eventually to buy-in, etc... to achieve the objective.

Several considerations:

  • When dealing with complex issues, it is necessary to present clearly because of the implications
  • Write it such that people can understand and get a clear picture
  • Know the intend audience - eg. public - what's close to their heart

(b) Why is writing well so important to you?

  • To get the right message across - in the way it is intended to be.
  • To position the message in a way that the idea, proposal, etc... sells!
  • To express our thoughts, opinions, perceptions, stand, etc... so that (possibly) people know where we are coming from.
  • To be able to influence one's thoughts.
  • >>> It's an exercise - to plan and organise/structure the thoughts

(c) What are the different considerations you bear in mind when you plan and draft your papers?

  • Audience - who's reading? It determines the tone, style, language
  • Key Message - what's exactly the paper about? Its intent
  • Background - related matters; implications
  • Rationale
  • Format
  • Other stakeholders - the likely affected parties

(d) What are the different steps you go through when you have to write a paper?

  • Intent
  • Audience
  • Research
  • Format & approach
  • Draft/Feedback {recursive}

  • Planning ~ 25% of time
  • Drafting ~ 20% of time
  • Vetting ~ 40 - 70% of time
  • Submitting
  • Following through - presentation, lobby for support?

p14: How do you assess what your readers' concerns, preferences, needs and attitudes are?

  • Ask them - what they want to know? (info? concept?) do not tell them what they know
  • Ask them who works closely with them
  • Read what they consider "good" and "bad" writing - reader specific, styles, what moves them?
  • Read what they say and write
  • Read biographical sketches and profiles

Always bear in mind...

  • Be selective, be concise
  • Don't tell someone what you know
  • Tell them what they need to know, what it means and why it matters

Day 2 Useful words

(a) Use short words

  • approximately: about
  • ambiguous: not clear, vague
  • ascertain: confirm, find out
  • currently: now
  • deliberate upon: discuss
  • endeavour: try, do
  • expedite: speed up, hasten
  • fallacious: false, wrong
  • comprehensive: thorough
  • incorporate: include
  • incremental: slow/small increase
  • demonstrate: show
  • utilise: use
  • originate: begin
  • terminate: end, conclude

(b) Use just one word (or two)...

  • by means of: through, by
  • as a consequence of: as a result, therefore
  • for the purpose of: to
  • in accordance with: according, under this section
  • in favour of: for
  • in order to: to
  • in the event that: if
  • on the basis of: base on
  • with a view to: to
  • with respect to: about
  • at a later date: later, by DDMMYYYY
  • during the time that: that

(c) Remove unnecessary words

  • during the period of May-July: from May to July
  • in the Singapore context: in Singapore
  • red in colour: red

(d) Use verbs, adverbs and adjectives instead of nouns

  • of a permanent nature: permanently, fixed
  • come to a decision: decide
  • at a fast pace: quickly
  • had a discussion: discuss
  • the plan's implementation is on: it's implemented on
  • of a vast quantity: many, significant

(e) Other menas for writing simple and short English:

  • do not use too mnay conjunctions
  • use list
  • use annexes
  • use appropriate subheadings
  • use common acryonms
  • use active voice

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