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The difference between good writing and a good message

A well written article or communication is a pleasure to read; the sentences flow in the mind without effort. I aim to write well, to consider my word use, my syntax, sentence length, and the paragraphs of ideas upon the page.

But good writing isn’t enough, and there are times when bad writing is forgiveable, or even goes unnoticed. If you’ve got something important to say, if you’ve got a good message to give out and you say it with passion or with such directness I can’t help but consider it, then I’m not going to worry about your over use of gerunds or your poor punctuation.

As a reader, I am fascinated by what others have to say, if I can tell they really mean it. As a reader, I’m concerned about rambling, over-long drivel that’s obviously been banged out on the keyboard without further thought. But I can forgive a lot if the writer is knowledgeable, actively involved in their subject and passionate.

We should take care not to confuse good messages with good writing, and we might do well to be less judgemental when we find a writer or author who has a unique voice and a unique message. The rules of English as she be wrote are important, but after you’ve moved on from the page, the book, the article, you should be left with the message, not the writer’s grasp of finite clauses.

Before you write

Many people sit down to write and assume they must craft the perfect article made from perfect paragraphs made from perfect sentences…

Perfection is dead. Perfection is unyielding, cold, rigid, brittle and static. Perfection, without doubt, will destroy your voice and render your writing frigid.

If you want your message to live on after the reader has dropped your newsletter or deleted your email, inject some personality into it. Make yourself, as a person, be heard within the beautiful prose.

If you’re writing a corporate communication then you certainly need to consider the audience’s needs more than your voice!

Comparison: official communication versus personal message

Corporate communications from ‘the business’ need to be:

  • Clear;
  • Concise;
  • Timely;
  • Relevant;
  • Authoritative;
  • Accurate.

There is room for a little more personality when promoting something good to your business partners or your employees; such good news communications might also be:

  • Positive;
  • Active;
  • Detailed;
  • Contextual;
  • Considerate.

Messages and idea from you yourself could to be:

  • In your personal voice;
  • Interesting;
  • Detailing some news, knowledge or idea;
  • Insightful;
  • Open – sharing something.

We could discuss this all day actually, as ‘tone‘ is so very important for all kinds of comms, and considering the message and the audience, tone can be a many varied matter. Know the message, know your audience, get the tone right and the comms will virtually write itself!

How’s my writing? Text 07950705258 if you see me writing without due care and consideration for other superhighway users.

But regardless of the writing, can you take away a meaningful message from today’s blog, and whatever you happen to read next?


About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

One thought on “The difference between good writing and a good message

  • What a great post, and it’s certainly made me think about my own writing style. I think I sometimes worry too much about ‘good writing’ and end up neglecting the actual message.

    I’m learning a lot from your blogs and I’m beginning to realise that the style of writing I adopt needs to be adapted to suit the type of communication I’m creating.

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