Your instructor may ask you to complete one or more of the following exercises.
Write a paragraph connecting Brenda Knights’ narrative to the rest of the chapter or to your own experience.
Pick a mood like “happy” or “nervous” or “bored.” Then, go outside and write down 10 details that you see that could convey that mood. For example, if you were standing in your classroom and were happy, you might see bright clothing, friendly faces, delicious cups of coffee etc. If you were bored, you might see white walls, a dreary day outside, too much text on the Powerpoint slides, a clock ticking slowly. Use your 10 details to write a short paragraph that conveys the mood you were trying to express without saying it. You can also consider your sentence length and rhythm. When you’re done, read your work out loud and see if someone can guess the mood.
- Go online and find the terms of service for a social media platform or website that you like, such as Facebook or Twitter. See if you can translate a few paragraphs into plain language.
- Take a long or wordy paragraph (either something you’ve written or something you’ve read — maybe even in this textbook) and try to turn it into a tweet (280 characters) without losing the meaning.
- Find a video you’ve saved that shows your friends and family interacting. Watch the video and listen to how each person is speaking. What makes their “voice” unique? Do they use certain words more often? Do they favour long or short sentences? Do they talk quickly or slowly? If you had to describe their “voice,” how would you describe it.
- If you can write in more than one language, write a paragraph or two that reflects on the difference between what is seen as “good writing” in the different languages you speak. Do all cultures value plain language? What features does good writing have in other languages you speak?
- Using the voice recorder on a smartphone or computer, record yourself reading an assignment. Then, listen to the recording. What do you notice about the style and tone of your piece? Write a paragraph on your findings.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 5 Sept. 2010. Web. 24 May 2011.
Burton, Gideon O. Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric. Brigham Young U, n.d. Web. 26 May 2011.
Eidenmuller, MIchael E. “American Rhetoric: Rhetorical Figures in Sound.” American Rhetoric. American Rhetoric, 2011. Web. 26 May 2011.
Elbow, Peter. “11. Revising by Reading Aloud. What the Mouth and Ear Know.” Selected Works of Peter Elbow. U of Massachusetts-Amherst, 2010. Web. 26 May 2011.
Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, with Readings. New York: Norton, 2009. Print.
MorrisHillPictures. “Bad Writing – Official Trailer.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 Apr. 2010. Web. 24 May 2011.
Romano, Tom. “Writing with Voice.” Voices from the Middle 11.2 (2003): 50-55. NCTE. Web. 24 May 2011.
teachertubewriting. “Word Chef Voice in Writing.” YouTube. YouTube, 29 Sept. 2009. Web. 30 May 2012.
Bailey, E. P. (2008). Plain English at work: A guide to business writing and speaking. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Bernoff, Josh. Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity. Harvard Business Review. Web. 6 September 2016.
This chapter contains material taken from Introduction to Professional Communications is (c) 2018 by Melissa Ashman and is licensed under a Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.