Bass’ Blog: Teaching Others — Powerful Writing Changes Lives
Blog #9 — At Last! Dilemma Resolved … “That” or “Which”
This is the first time I’ve leveraged another expert’s wisdom in my blog – so huge shout out to Stacey Aaronson (email@example.com). I credit what follows below to Stacey.
The determination of using “that” or “which” is governed by restrictive vs. non-restrictive relative clauses. Read on … it’s easy.
Restrictive Relative Clause
Words following “that” are restricted to the preceding words. Think of “that” as a bridge linking the two elements in the sentence.
To verify, remove “that” from the sentence. If the sentence makes no sense, “that” is the correct choice.
We should embrace any program that promotes reading for children.
Do you have any tomatoes that were grown organically?
This is the exercise that builds great core muscles.
Now let’s examine “which” …
Non-Restrictive Relative Clause
The “which” element provides additional information to the sentence and can be eliminated — hence the term non-restrictive — without changing the meaning of the sentence. The “which” element is always separated by a comma.
Reading programs, which are now offered in many schools, should be embraced.
Tomatoes, which can be grown organically or conventionally, contain lycopene.
Squats and crunches, which both use core muscles, are great for building overall strength.
Blog #8 — ““What advice do you have for an aspiring author?”
I was recently asked this question but chose to revise to, “What advice do I offer everyone?” Each individual entering the professional world – in almost any occupation – needs to be a skilled story teller.
Whenever you communicate, e.g., government official testifying to Congress, lawyer addressing a jury, writing input for your annual appraisal or composing your resume, updating the boss on the day’s activities, nurse briefing a doctor about a patient, student writing a report for a college class … these are – in fact – telling a story.
My advice to everyone (beyond adhering to the specifics in Write to Influence!) — do NOT write as you speak. Words flow in conversation; we do not edit before uttering. A major mistake people make in writing is that they don’t edit … at all.
The written language is completely different from the colloquial (that spoken daily), especially in the professional world. Unfortunately, writing-as-you-speak is a common affliction, as seen below:
Before: The values my father and mother learned and displayed are my ideal of citizenship. While I am not yet 100% certain on how I want to leverage my degree (i.e., private practice, government, or uniform), my parents’ example has certainly taught me the “how” – fully committed, dedicated and with absolute integrity.
After: My parents’ values are my model. I will pursue a career in engineering fully committed and with integrity, whether in private practice, government, or the military.
Blog #7 — “Why can’t college graduates write coherent prose?”
Sharing a paragraph from this spot-on article by Jeffrey J. Selingo, Washington Post … August 11, 2017
“My students can’t write a clear sentence to save their lives, and I’ve had it,” Joseph R. Teller, an English professor at College of the Sequoias, wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the fall. “In 10 years of teaching writing, I have experimented with different assignments, activities, readings, approaches to commenting on student work — you name it — all to help students write coherent prose that someone would actually want to read. And as anyone who keeps up with trends in higher education knows, such efforts largely fail.
While Write to Influence! is by no means the sole answer to this pervasive problem — pervasive because the inability to write well is multi-generational, afflicting kids in high school through those already in the workforce — this book should certainly be considered as part of the solution. The workshops I teach and feedback from students have confirmed this for the past 15 years.
Last weekend, I mailed a copy of the book, a complied list of glowing reviews, and the WP article to: Governor McAuliffe; Senators Warner and Kaine; and my personal representative, Congressman Garrett (Fauquier county) in hopes they can help me open doors. The cover letter to these elected officials conveys my absolute and compelling desire to reach as many people as possible, because this book can make a difference for many people … it already has.
If you know educators, please spread the word about Write to Influence! and my workshops … one small voice can be greatly amplified by others … This is all about helping people to help others. Thank you!
Blog #6 — “Write to Influence!” in a Competitive World
Why You Need a Staff That Can … Write
Retain and develop in-house talent – Compose powerful, effective appraisals
Compete in large-scale award programs – Win accolades and recognition for your company and people
Broadcast and leverage good news – Trumpet effectively via articles, blogs, etc.
Defend the boss’ signature/reputation—Only quality products bear his/her name
Make the medicine go down — Snazzy writing makes mandatory training less painful … more memorable
Defend your castle – Resources are tight … make that case to retain your assets
Expand your empire – No one deserves more resources than you … make that case!
Brief the boss – Seconds & words count – Your reputation and project are on the line
Create tailored products to develop the workforce – Aka, effective training
Work the occasional miracle — “They” say, “It can’t be done.” … Prove them wrong!
Blog #5 — Powerful Writing … Let’s talk resumes.
Influential writing is key and often tips the balance between success and failure.
The clock ticks … You have a fleeting few minutes to hook the reader … And, that’s the easy part! To retain interest, you must crafting a finely honed, riveting, and compelling message.
You may be the best-qualified candidate but if the competition is better at telling a story, you lose. You must make every word on the resume and each second of the reader’s time play to your advantage in this all-important, often single piece of paper.
- Stand out from the crowd – List awards and recognition in the opening segment.
- Follow with special skills and leadership attributes.
- Be consistent in verb tense … and use powerful, action-oriented verbs.
- IMPACT … IMPACT … IMPACT – How did you advance the mission?
- Use statistics, quantify … bring focus and context to your accomplishments.
- Don’t bury the golden nuggets. I once helped a college student with his first resume. Last line, under “Other Accomplishments” … “Captain of the high school soccer team for three years and led it to a championship.” I moved that bullet to the opening section, “Awards and Accolades” – Why? Leadership skills!
Find many more writing tips, strategies, and examples in Write to Influence!
Blog #4: Powerful Writing for Teens — Snag That Job, Nail That Essay!
This is for teenagers. Powerful writing opens doors for you, too! How? Resumes and essays on college applications.
Both require introspection to gather data points below. Next, craft your story with precision and focus – time/space matter tremendously. “Write to Influence!” shows you how.
Develop an elevator speech on what you bring to the job — Why should you be hired or selected for the college?
Identify your strengths and weaknesses, a challenge you overcame and lessons learned, a grand experience/why it was so, hobbies, passions (not synonymous), 3 items you want the interviewer to remember, leadership skills/when/how applied, community involvement, etc.
Match these items to the job qualifications and focus on 3-4 that overlap. Develop — and rehearse — responses to interview questions, determine how to weave those three items into the conversation.
For the essay, write several drafts to hone the message, making each word count.
Final thought, don’t bury the gold nugget. For example, I helped a college student with his first resume. Penultimate bullet under “Other Accomplishments” – “Captain of the high school soccer team for three years and led it to a championship.” I moved that bullet – and expanded it – to the opening category of the resume, Awards and Accolades. Why? Leadership!
Blog #3: Chicago or Bust! ALA Convention
Just returned from the American Library Association convention in Chicago and a fabulous book signing. Highlight was the privilege of conversing with librarians (all types … public, university, elementary thru high schools, etc.) from across the country.
I hope Heaven reserves a special place for this group of hard working, dedicated, and caring professionals.
Without exception, those with whom I spoke acknowledged the diminution of core writing skills at many levels. The attributed this erosion to technology-driven communication (e.g., Twitter) and to teachers (equally hard working, dedicated, and caring), constrained by a curriculum that allows neither time nor latitude to inculcate these critical skills in students.
Many also acknowledged the need to hone writing skills among their own staffs to better compete for grants and even travel funds to attend functions such as this.
Take away … whether librarian, corporate leader, or private business owner, the need to write powerfully is ubiquitous. The ability to effectively wield the written word opens doors to a multitude of opportunities. The inability to do so is equally decisive.
That is why I’m delighted to partner with libraries …Recently added to Atlanta-Fulton public library!
Blog #2: Write to Influence! — Powerful Writing Changes Lives!
I’ve seen it … I’ve done it … throughout my thirty years active duty in the Air Force and several years thereafter in government.
Powerful writing opens doors to promotion, fellowships, internships, scholarships, grants, career-broadening opportunities, competitive training, and so much more.
In each case, influential writing is key to success. A well-crafted, hard-hitting, influential message often tips the scale in your favor.
On the flip side, you might be THE most qualified candidate—hands down—but if the competition is better at telling a story … you lose.
I witnessed this as a squadron commander. Time and again, talented squadron members were passed over for quarterly and annual awards, not because they were underserving but because supervisors could not write compelling nomination packages.
This is equally relevant from an organizational perspective. Have you ever read a paragraph in a report, then read it again, and yet a third time … still unable to ascertain the author’s point? Of course, we all have! Wading through textual muck is time consuming, counterproductive, frustrating, and the bane of today’s business products.
Facing cuts in budget or staff? Need to obtain resources to expand a program? Preparing that critical annual report? Clear, concise writing is the lifeblood for private business, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies that:
Rely on influential communication to grow business
Employ a large staff, especially one geographically dispersed
Deal with abstract ideas (e.g., analysis of social, economic, and political trends)
Account to the public, to other institutions (e.g., Congress), and to history, and must explain and record their activities accordingly
Face the possibility that an error caused by poor writing could be damaging either financially or to important national matters (Mortimer Goldstein, Disciplined Writing and Career Development, 1986)
These are the challenges. Your task is to WOW! the reader, leaving that individual nodding in agreement with your message, wanting to read more.
In next week’s blog, I’ll share some tips on how to make each word and every second of the reader’s time play to your advantage.
Blog #1:NYC or Bust! BEA Book Expo
Thought I’d stick my toe in this water — something I’ve studiously avoided! — by sharing photos from my most amazing trip to NYC. There, I attended the award ceremony from the Next Generation Independent Book Awards … Write to Influence! won an award as Finalist in the category, Careers.
The next two days, the book was included in an exhibit at the BEA Book Expo at the Javits Center, attended by 400 exhibitors and thousands of guests. Please enjoy the shots. I obviously did!
I’ll post every Friday afternoon with a mixture of challenges … “Can YOU fix this writing?” or other fun thoughts. Please direct your friends here … and their friends!
Connect with Carla
Sign Up for Free Advice
Published and Distributed By