“The plain English course we did was good. I use what Amanda taught us every day, in everything I write”
Lucy Alfred, Former Bid Co-ordinator, Purcell architects / Write for effect masterclass
Though it is estimated English vocabulary includes well over 1 million words, linguists are undecided. The English Oxford Dictionary claims to be the unsurpassed guide to 600 000 words, 3 million quotations and 1000 years of English.
With so much vocabulary at our fingertips, how do we make effective choices when it comes to writing?
On 4 June 2015, I had the pleasure of running a three-hour Write for effect masterclass with the AJ120’s 10th largest architectural practice in the UK, Purcell. Designed specifically for the practice’s writing needs, across internal and external marketing materials, the masterclass covered four areas:
1. Power of a word
2. Good vs bad writing
3. Deconstruct and reassemble
4. Practise, practise
“The tasks which followed the theory made us practise what we had learned. They illustrated both our bad habits and what we do well in our daily writing.”
Using a work book – especially authored for participants of the masterclass and packed with exercises – they wrote, scribbled, edited, swapped notes in pairs and composed individually – sharing the fruit of their writing labours with the group so we could critique, and suggest improvements.
“The short length meant our concentration was maintained and we stayed engaged”
We discussed the timeless merits of Plain English, and practised how to apply vigorously. We considered the impact of a pithy heading on various audiences, and practised creating more. We looked at the unsatisfying effect repetitive use of negation has, and turned negatives into positives. We covered elements of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) – in particular the importance of drawing on a range of see, hear, feel, taste, smell related words – as it is known different audiences use different senses to best communicate their experiences. Which also means they respond more naturally to their preferred sensory words when reading. Best cover all the senses if the writing is to appeal to multiple audiences.
“What worked well was the use of Purcell text – generated a strong understanding of the development needed with current text.”
Lastly we dove deep into the heartland of Purcell’s own copy (bids, press releases, newsletters, email announcements, feature articles, internal documents),
“It was useful to work with existing text produced by Purcell, it allowed us to relate directly to it rather than editing something completely random.”
Let’s too remember the value of working together in a learning environment where new connections with colleagues can be made.
“The exercise with favourite words was really interesting and provided an insight into each other!”
To book a Write for effect masterclass, for up to 10 people, get in touch
© Amanda Yensa Manor 2015