Castle Door

The Basics

Effective writing is being able to paint with the skill of a famous artist, only with words. The basics of effective writing are simple to understand and complex to use.

Determine your audience

Who are you writing this for?  If you are writing this for the average person who has no prior knowledge of your subject, then you have to find a place to start writing so that the person you are writing to can understand all of what you are trying to tell them.  The use of examples for explaining a concept rises if your audience is unknown.

If you are writing for a group or an individual who has your same level of expertise on a topic, then you can assume they understand certain aspects of that topic.  The number of examples necessary to make a point drops dramatically.  You can use terms without defining them because you have a reason to believe that your audience knows what those terms mean.


Those two opening paragraphs were written in what I call a "professional" or "dry" (or what I personally call "boring lecture hall") tone of voice.  A professional approach is used to inform without entertaining because the person reading your work is a serious student.

But, if I want you to retain what you read, I would use a much friendlier approach and give examples of what I'm talking about that would put a smile on your face.  Maybe the term "boring lecture hall" reminds you of some boring (but required) course that you had to suffer your way through?

Tone of Voice

There are basically three tones of voice:

  1. Negative
  2. Neutral
  3. Positive

Each one has a use to get a point across in effective writing, but maybe the following example of the same information written in each of the three tones will help you to more clearly see what I mean:

  1. Negative: This website is for teaching purposes only and if you aren't willing to learn something then go surf somewhere else!

  2. Neutral: This website is intended to allow the visitor to learn the techniques of effective writing.

  3. Positive: This website's purpose is to assist others in learning some useful tools to allow them to write more effectively and, as such, I hope you enjoy your stay and bookmark this site for return visits.

Point made?

If you learned something from just this section, you might want to read the rest of this tutorial.  You just never know, it might be worth your time!

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