There are two types of people in this world: those who leap at the chance to write a memo and the rest of us. For those of us who don’t find memo writing to be an inspirational task, it’s a slow slog from start to finish. Still, there is a process with a few musts that not only makes it less arduous but also result in a solid memo each and every time.
- Know who you’re writing for: Is this memo to a peer, a subordinate, your supervisor, the entire company? Until you know who is the intended primary reader, it will be nearly impossible to get up and running.
- Identify the points you need to include: They don’t have to be in order, but deciding what you need to cover in the memo before you begin will really help.
- Write a 1-sentence recap: Sort of like the famed elevator pitch, this recap is what would you say if you had 30 seconds to say something about this topic to the head of your company.
- Put your points in order: How do you want the logic to flow in this piece of writing?
- Clarify each point: Add a few sentences to make it clear what each point is about.
- Write the first paragraph: Include the purpose of the memo.
- Write the body of the memo: Use your clarified points.
- Write the closing: Be sure to include any call to action or expectations.
- Put it aside for an hour: Really. Do something else for a while.
- Read it aloud & revise before sending: As you read, you’ll discover any cringe-worthy parts while you still have time to make a change!
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Science Writing is one of the most exciting forms of writing because it provides an opportunity to bring readers into a space they may not normally consider. The challenge of sharing new ideas and scientific concepts without jargon and in approachable yet accurate language adds an interesting element to the writing process. So, what are the five most important tasks for science writers?
- Go back to the beginning: If your education is in the sciences, go back to the moment when science first took on its appeal. If your education is in the liberal arts, go back to the start of your exploration into this particular aspect of science. Either way, putting yourself back at the starting point puts you at the same point as your least informed reader.
- Leave out the jargon: It’s not going to help if you start telling your reader about monoclonal antibodies if they have no clue what any of that means. Neither does it help to explain with a lot of jargon and tech-talk.
- Simplify without dumbing down: Your reader is curious and willing to commit the time to reading what you have to say. Put it in terms that build the concept in steps so that, by the end of the piece, the reader is conversant with the concepts you’ve covered.
- Use examples from the everyday: Describe your concepts by using everything from Legos to breadmaking. The important thing is to create an experience the reader relates to.
- Bring it Home: Be sure to make it relevant by including real-world applications of the science so that your readers can see where it fits, and why it matters, in their lives.
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Writers write. They also get stuck and can’t think of a thing to say.
Here are 10 prompts to get you started when your brain stalls:
- It surprises me when
- I also wanted
- I wish I hadn’t
- The one thing I would do differently
- The thing I ever ate
- I always wanted to
- The best decision I ever made
- You’ll know Bob when you see him because
- Are you a beach person, a cabin person, or a mountain person?
- I love it when
Hello! You’ll find links to my Fall Workshops in Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction via Zoom at The Writer’s Center. You’ll also see workshops I offer at other times. Questions? Let me know!
Happy New Year!
The Writer’s Center in Bethesda: Narrative Nonfiction writing workshop. The first session is on Jan 21 (10 weeks in all). We’ll have time to write and critique, as well as to discuss the use of narrative. If you’re local, I hope you’ll join us.
Online: The online version of the Workshop starts on Jan 20. This class will use a Google Classroom, Zoom, and Skype to explore the use of narrative to tell a factual story. Sessions will be recorded so that they can be accessed by those unable to make the actual discussions. Please contact me with any questions and/or to register.
My first online writing classes will be offered on Udemy in February. These classes are intended to get you going with confidence. They will be free overviews of topics of interest to writers who are getting started. The next round of classes will be more geared to those who have the basics down and need more advanced work on craft. These more advanced classes will not be free, but before you take one of them you will have the opportunity to decide which genre fits you and what you need, before paying for a workshop that just doesn’t do it.
I’m an experienced writing teacher, freelance writer, and published author. My interest are in narrative nonfiction, science fiction, mystery, spy stuff, and children’s fiction. I’m excited to bring you classes about finding your genre, focusing on a niches, finding an agent, writing a book proposal … If it relates to the business of writing, the craft of writing, or the pure joy of putting words to paper, you’ll find a class for you.
There will be more info coming in the next few weeks.
I look forward to working with you!
It’s hard to believe that 2018 is coming to a close. I’m still waiting for my flying car, but there sure have been plenty of other changes in the works.
You’ve asked us for some specific changes in 2019:
1. Online classes
2. More resources
3. Author interviews
4. Critique sessions
5. Discussion on craft
Our answer to all of these is YES! SO – you’ll see some changes on this site. You’ll also see more frequent posts. If you’d like to see something that’s not on the list, please let us know at Savvygina at gmail dot com
I’m looking forward to an exciting new year, but for the rest of this year, I’ll post more often!
STARTS NOVEMBER 12
Please join me for Writing Narrative Nonfiction 101. This class will be held online. The text for the class is Storycraft, by former Oregonian Writing Coach Jack Hart. We’ll have one class plus exercises per chapter, with a wrap-up for additional discussion and questions. The cost of the class will be $250. Please register below.
We’ll have a Google Classroom or Facebook Group for our discussions and resource material. We’ll meet online via Zoom and the meetings will be taped for those who cannot attend in person.
Each meeting will focus on an aspect of writing a piece of narrative nonfiction. There will also be other readings and exercises, to reinforce the concepts and provide you with an opportunity to try it for yourself.
I’m a freelance biotech, health-tech, and sci-tech writer and published author. I look forward to working with you!
Narrative nonfiction is the craft of telling a story using only true events. That sounds like boxing with one hand tied behind your back. It isn’t. If you have a story, the true events are essential to that narrative. Using them to bring the beginning, middle, and end to life becomes an exercise in finding just the right details. Throughout the process, you know that when you do, the reader will be that much more involved in what you have to say. Continue reading →
I’m beginning a series of posts that will cover writing nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, and long form narrative; finding a topic; uncovering the story in your notes; the craft of nonfiction; and topics related to writing nonfiction.
The posts will be based upon my study and experience in this exciting – yes, exciting! – area of writing. It will also be based upon the feedback and questions I’ve received from my students in the workshops I teach at The Writer’s Center, as well as in the writing classes and webinars I offer online.
I’ll make the post titles descriptive, as well as the tags, so you’ll be able to tell and find the posts that interest you. If you have any questions, or comments, or just want to weigh in, please use this form. Thanks! ~Gina