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Quick & Painless Business Writing

Book Description

Want to send an E-mail your boss will open right away?

Need a knock-out proposal to seal a deal?

Want to create a Web site that no customer can resist?

Quick & Painless Business Writing will show you how.

Yes, you can improve your writing without memorizing endless rules, perusing checklists of do’s and don’ts, or revisiting the lessons of high school. Quick & Painless Business Writing reveals secrets that will eliminate business-writing phobias and faux pas and help you create outstanding documents that get optimal results.

First, you’ll learn that grammar is not a collection of stagnant rules you’d better follow (or else), but an ever-changing set of principles with plenty of choices. Then you’ll discover secrets about writing your English teachers never told you: the secret power of nouns, the destructive force of innocent-seeming verbs, and the way sentence structure can elicit certain responses.

You’ll happily replace what you learned about “structure” with an altogether new understanding of how to open, develop, and close your messages. Even better, you’ll learn how to build a cohesive message quickly, with little need for rewriting.

But business writing cannot live on words alone. That’s why this book explores the review process – whether your reviewer is an in-house editor, a client, a boss, or even a spouse – and help you learn strategic ways to approach and manage them.

With this information, you’ll do more than write well. You’ll be able to craft strategic messages that get the right response from your reader, whether you want a colleague to send important information now or a customer to say “yes” to your proposal.

Have to address a difficult situation? Confront a co-worker? Defend yourself to your boss? Give a bad employee bad news? This book will show you how to do that and more...quickly and painlessly.

Susan F. Benjamin, a former college professor, has taught more than 100,000 professionals the secrets of business writing during the last 15 years. She has appeared on CNN-FN, NPR affiliates and other broadcasts, and participated in the White House initiative on plain language. Her articles, research findings, and opinion pieces on communications regularly appear in national publications. She lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Dedication
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. The Quick, Painless, and Indispensable
  7. Section I - Why Quick? Why Painless? Why Not?
    1. Chapter 1 - Five No-Worry Reality Checks
      1. Reality Check #1: The Response
      2. Reality Check #2: Your Reader: A Surprise Profile
      3. Reality Check #3: Your Education
      4. Reality Check #4: Who Needs Grammar Rules?
      5. Reality Check #5: Let Logic Prevail
  8. Section II - Word Use—No Pain, All Gain
    1. Chapter 2 - Ouchless Nouns
      1. When Do We Diagram Sentences? A Flashback
      2. Nouns: All About Them
      3. The Question You’re Dying to Ask!
      4. The Passive Voice
      5. Noun Nuggets: To Do and Not To Do
      6. Noun Uppers
      7. Acronyms: The Naked Nouns
      8. A Quick Q&P Acronym Q&A
      9. More Noun Nuggets: The Secrets
      10. Genderless-ness: Language Battles in Action
      11. But Wait! There’s More!
      12. Genderless Action Plan
    2. Chapter 3 - Noun Accomplices: Articles, Pronouns, and Adjectives
      1. Articles
      2. Another Quick Q&P Q&A…This Time About Articles
      3. Pronouns: The Rule Breakers
      4. I-phobia
      5. Me-phobia
      6. The Myself and I Syndrome
      7. Your (a) Gold Star
      8. The Its-It’s Conundrum
      9. And Ever More Pronouns…
      10. The Great Who/Whom Debate
      11. Adjectives
    3. Chapter 4 - Verbs: The Power Words
      1. Action Verbs
      2. Harnessing Verb Power: A Quick and Painless Approach
      3. How About Those Tense—and Slow and Painful—Verbs?
      4. The Good Guy Verbs—A Reminder
      5. Tense About Tense?
      6. The Noun-Verb Marriage: A Brief Interlude
      7. Tense Agreement: A Quick and Painless Approach
      8. The Top 10 Agreement Hang-Ups
      9. A Brief Outburst Plus the Author’s Response
      10. Metaphor: The Powermonger
      11. Linking Verbs
      12. So What About Them?
      13. To Be—But for How Long?
      14. Helping Verbs
      15. Adverbs: Too Much, Too Often
    4. Chapter 5 - Glue Words
      1. The Review
      2. Conjunctions: The Review
      3. The Case of Then and Than
      4. Never Use Three Where One Will Do
      5. Prepositions: The Review Two
      6. Preposition Problems?
      7. Glue Words Controversy #1: Conjunction Consumption
      8. Glue Words Controversy #2
      9. Last Word: Preposition Past
    5. Chapter 6 - Sentence Savvy
      1. But First! An Answer to the Eternal Sentence Question
      2. The Assembly: Sentence Types
      3. And Now...The Exceptions
      4. The Compound Sentence: Siamese Twins
      5. The Complex Sentence
      6. Compound-Complex Sentences
      7. Sentence Bits and Pieces for the Maximum Effect
      8. Phrases
      9. Misplaced Modifiers
      10. Don’t Forget These Strategies:
  9. Section III - Quick, Painless, and Plain: Almost All You Need to Know About Style
    1. Chapter 7 - Plain Language Primer: So What Are the Big Guys Afraid Of?
      1. Top Reasons You, Your Boss, Your Employees, Your Friends, and Yes, Even Your ...
      2. So Do You Use Plain Language?
      3. Plain Language: The Sordid Details
      4. Your Tax Dollars and Plain Language: The Mix
    2. Chapter 8 - Why the Active Voice Isn’t, and a Few Words About Being Concise
      1. Cousin It
      2. And the Prize Goes to...
      3. Passive-Active Q&A
      4. And Now...A Few Words on Being Concise
      5. As for Cloning...
      6. The Style-Content Connection
    3. Chapter 9 - Reader-Focus: Bowing to the King and Queen of the Universe
      1. There’s No Writing but Marketing Writing
      2. Case Study
      3. On the Couch
      4. The “Show, Don’t Count” Phenomenon
      5. A “Show, Don’t Tell” How-To
      6. Hold On! What Do I Do Instead?
      7. Wait—We Weren’t Done! Back to the Couch
      8. When Your Point of View Counts
    4. Chapter 10 - The Truth About Tone, Damn It!
      1. All About Jargon!
      2. Category 1: Jargon
      3. Category 2: Industry Terminology
      4. On Closer Inspection: The Jargon-Industry Terminology Distinction
      5. The Industry Terminology-Jargon Trail
      6. Tone—The Big Three (Plus One Cousin)
      7. The Audience Factor
      8. Tone Reminder
      9. Other Tones Too
      10. In Closing...Web Thoughts
  10. Section IV - Cohesive Structure: Keeping It Together
    1. Chapter 11 - Seducing, Spinning, and Sedating: All About Structure
      1. Structure: The Great Unnatural Act
      2. Listing: The Anti-ramble
      3. Reading Reality Check
      4. Repeat Structure Repeats
      5. Closing Big Picture Question: A Personal Question to the Author
    2. Chapter 12 - The Paragraph: On Closer Inspection
      1. Paragraph Myth and Reality: A Jet Back in Time
      2. The Paragraph-Brick Connection
      3. In the Beginning...The Pre-paragraph
      4. First (Introductory) Paragraphs
      5. Opening Paragraph Possibilities—In Closing
      6. Beyond the Beginning: Imposing Order
      7. The Inverted Pyramid
      8. Analysis and Support
      9. Paragraph Length: How to Tell...
      10. Final Word on the Final Word: Why Paragraph Length Matters
      11. The Big Four: Equal Facts, Chronological, Descriptive, Compare and Contrast
      12. Equal Facts: The Bullets
      13. Bullets: The Use and Misuse
      14. Large-to-Small
      15. Most- to Least- or Least- to Most-Noticeable
      16. And Now For a Reality Slice: The Un-paragraph
      17. Mix ’n’ Match Paragraphs: The Examples
    3. Chapter 13 - The End
      1. Summaries
      2. Conclusions
      3. Numbers
      4. Letter closings
      5. And...Goodbye
  11. About the Author