Leave your writing manual at home! This is not a workshop on split infinitives and grammar but one about ensuring that you are communicating with clarity, coherence, and accuracy to achieve the results you desire. Dr. Gopen’s approach is stated simply: Readers take the majority of their clues for the interpretive process not from word choice nor from word meaning, but rather from the structural location of words. Thus, where a word appears in a sentence will control most of the use to which that word will be put. We all know this intuitively as readers. Dr. Gopen will make it conscious in us as writers.
Most people assume that reading and writing are 85% word choice and 15% structure when it is really 15% word choice and 85% structure. Readers need to be able to answer five essential questions to understand the message correctly. If the reader gets even one wrong, the interpretation arrived at will not be the one the writer intended. The five questions are:
- What is going on here?
- Whose story is this?
- How does this sentence connect to the previous sentence?
- How does this sentence lead into the next sentence?
- What pieces of information should be read with special emphasis?