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Take the Reader's Perspective

Posted on December 4, 2007

Jay Belsky (bio) describes writing as a form of marketing.

 

It’s hard to write about something or about results that you don’t find interesting. You’ve got to find a way to get excited about them. Hopefully you’re excited about them to begin with. You don’t have to turn them into Mount Everest, but writing for publication is ultimately marketing. You’ve got to market a set of ideas. You’ve got to be persuasive. I’m not trying to make it cheap. I’m just trying to bring it into perspective that the data just don’t speak for themselves unless you frame them so they do.

You have to be able to tell the person who’s not inside your head why this is important work to do. It may be brain-dead obvious to you, but it’s not brain-dead obvious to somebody else why you chose to do this or why you think that’s important.

One of the real challenges for any writer is to realize what they assume is already known and what’s implicit to them and turn that and make it explicit.

So you’ve got to continually ask yourself, “Why am I saying this,” and also, “What does the person reading this need to know,” and, “What am I assuming he or she knows?” So you have to be skilled at taking the perspective of the reader rather than presuming that the reader’s going to be able to get into your head the same way you do. The fact is there’s so much out there to read these days that unless you grab that reader and make it effortless for them more or less with clear communication, they’re going to move onto something else.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.

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