INTRODUCTION. «Man is an animal that lives in language as a fish lives in water and so written communication is just one of the ways that man can survive through» (English scholar Annie Dillard). Writing is a skill to give information. Like all skills, it is not inborn and so it needs to be learnt. To give information you need good communication skills including the ability to write simply, clearly and concisely (Harris & Cunningham, 1996).
QUESTION A. Delineate the purpose of written communication, giving reasons for your answers. Different people have different reasons as to why they write. Some people write for their own private reasons or to attain their own individual goals. An example of this ‘private writing’ is exploratory writing. This is writing ideas that you do not want others to see. Introductory writing where you free write on a topic, before composing what you want to say. Examples of writing to explore a topic include keeping a journal, which helps one to take down information that will help him recollect and investigate ideas for a future write up. Another purpose in written communication may be to communicate something that happened, or narrating an experience to a reader. This is referred to as writing to reconstruct experience. To make the experience more vivid and interesting to a reader, you should give specific details, use concrete language (words that create a specific image in the mind of your reader for example: slowly tip-toe) and use of analogies (comparison words, for example hard as a rock). Examples of this purpose of writing include: — a witness writes a police statement to describe an occurrence. Or writers who write novels or books describing a true story they experienced. In most of our lives, we learn from those who can teach. Experienced elders or specialists teach us how to live, conduct ourselves, relate to one another and survive in different environments. My first day in USIU I was handed a student handbook which had all the rules and information about the university. That handbook was written with a purpose which was to instruct and advice. The purpose of instructions from this type of writing is to explain to readers about something or what they should do. Another purpose for writing is to inform. Information is power. In today’s society people need a lot of information to perform, thus making information quite a valuable commodity. A good example of writing to inform are gossip columns in magazines. Writers here search for information which readers find exiting. The fans of a musician like Madonna are quite interested to know what she does and what goes on in her life. Therefore gossip columnists quench the fans by searching for information on Madonna daily and reporting it. «All writers write to persuade or convince, regardless of what they are writing» (Harris & Cunningham, 1996, pg 216). From a poet, to a chef, all writers actually try to convince a reader in one way or another. The poet will try to convince people how a woman is like a rose and a chef on the other hand will try to convince that meat tastes better when boiled then fried. A student will try to convince an instructor that he has understood the course material by writing excellent essays such as this one. Through persuasive writing, people get things done by convincing a reader of something. Another reason is to write to solve problems and present solutions. Here, one visualizes a problem and then connects what one knows to what he does not know, by organizing his thoughts. The precursor leads to the quote: «A problem well put is half solved» (John Dewey). Writing to solve a problem starts with definition of a problem, then evaluating alternative solutions, then arguing for proposed solutions. By writing to solve a problem, one is fully engaged in the thought process and any good ideas that present solutions are immediately recorded. One can also draw small sketches which connect with one another to form a bigger and better solution. For example: when answering a mathematical question you first note down the variables that one is given. Next, you note what you are asked for, which you follow by writing down the relevant formula to the question. This will help you fix the given variables into the formula and equate the missing ones to solve the problem. Finally we write to document ideas. For example in doing research on a subject, one may want to include the results of the investigation in their text. This allows a person to see the text they are constructing in a larger context, and seeing individual parts as a whole, thus ideas expand and become part of an ongoing «intellectual conversation» (Harris & Cunningham, 1996). A good example is in academic writing where a student is required to research on a topic and give a report. In this example, the student learns more about a subject, tests his own ideas and arguments against those of others, provide readers with additional information and multiple viewpoints, and his work is more credible since he can back up and support his arguments.
QUESTION B. Explain in detail the four steps in formulating a written message. For one to come up with a proper written message, you need to follow a step by step process which allows you to give a good and precise write up. The first step or stage is to plan the message (Chandler, 1995). In planning for a message, you establish your purpose for writing, you then choose a medium and a channel to pass through a message, and in this case, you choose a channel that will facilitate your written message. You then consider the legal and ethical issues that appertain to your message, if any. That is, give the right information or do what is right for intended positive results. You then analyze your audience in relation to your message (for example: gender, age, educational background or level, and so on), and finally gather the necessary resources to facilitate your intended written message. This stage is more of a preparation stage for your message. Step two is free writing major points and ideas, then selecting the best strategy for presenting these points (Chandler, 1995). The dictionary defines free writing as without restraint. That is, writing down your ideas without observing any rules on content, organization and so on. You just put down on paper anything you know about the subject. Free writing helps a writer to come up with points from his own thoughts. For example on the subject of cars, one may free write ideas like tires, breaks seats, body, steering just to mention a few, as possible subjects to talk about when writing about a car. It’s after free writing that one can classify his points according to importance. The next step is to compose your message (Chandler, 1995). Given that you have your points, and they are classified and planned, you can now give more detailed explanations to your points by expanding them. Here, you give points more elaboration in an organized manner, sort of like a rough draft of your writing which will be, prone to corrections. The fourth and final stage is to evaluate your message (Chandler, 1995). This is simply revising the write up and making corrections for an effective final message. This is done when you evaluate the closing and opening sections because they have a big influence on your intended message. Most readers concentrate only on this since they contain major points in a message. In this stage, you also evaluate the message to make sure no contradictions are present; there is clarity, concise and correctness in the message. The writer also looks at the tone of the message to ensure it is appropriate and matching throughout the message. The mechanics involved in the writing is also evaluated in this stage. Correct grammar, good sentence and paragraph structure, are closely looked at. Other aspects that are checked are: — readability, format and appearance: which should be attractive so as to impress the reader and keep him interested. Evaluating these mentioned standards ensures that you achieve the goals you set for your write up (Chandler, 1995). CONCLUSION. In this write up I have discussed the different purposes as to what written communication aims to fulfill. The different purposes include to explain, to reconstruct experience, to teach, to inform, to persuade, to solve problems and present solutions, and finally, to document ideas of other writers. I have then went ahead to explain the four steps in formulating a written message. They are: — plan the message, free writing major points, compose your message and lastly evaluate your message in that order. REFERENCES. Hartley, P. (1996). Interpersonal communication. New York: Routledge. Denny, R. (2002). Communicate to win. London: Kogan Page Ltd. Verderber, S. K., & Verderber, F. R. (1976). Interact; Interpersonal Communication Skills. California: Wadsworth Publishing Co. Wolvin, A. & Coackley, C. G. (1996). Listening (5th Ed.). Dubuque: I. A. Brown & Benchmark. Hartel, C. W. & Schwartz, W. S. (1994). Ready for the real world; senior experience. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing company. Fielding, M. (1997). Effective Communication on organizations, 2nd edition, South Africa: The Rustica Press. Gibson, J. W. & Hodgetts, R. (1991). Organization communication: A Managerial Perspective. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. Chandler, F. G. (1995). Fundamentals of Business Communication. Richard D. Irwin Inc. Bienvenu, S. & Timm, P. R. (2002). Business Communication, Developing Strategy and Skills. Prentice Hall. Harris, J. & Cunningham, H. D. (1996). Guide to writing. New Jersey: Prentice hall.
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