Skip to content

My Message

Yesterday I promised a business plan and a mission statement. That was a bit of hyperbole, but to do any kind of useful audience analysis — to accurately describe who I’m trying to talk to — I’ve first got to decide what exactly it is that I have to say.

This isn’t (of course) the first time I’ve considered the issue. Half a year ago, in this site’s very first blog post, I started out by describing what kind of writing advice you could expect to find at Unstressed Syllables.

I talked to you, too. Throughout that article, I used a strong, direct second-person to tell the readers I didn’t have yet exactly what I was going to be doing.

The funny thing about it, of course, is that I had no clue. The motivation was spot on (and remains unchanged today), but the process of building a blog has been nothing like I expected back when I started.

Most noticeably, there was the casual hope that maybe, someday, the site would have something of a sense of community to it. That, I figured, would be a nice perk. I’ve spent six months learning that, no, building a sense of community is building a website.

That’s the whole point of today’s post, really. My message depends upon my audience, and my audience only matters insomuch as I’ve got something to say to them. So let’s start with that.

What I Want to Say

Here’s the part that hasn’t changed too much since I wrote that inaugural post last December. I’ve strayed a bit at times, tried out a conversation or two that wasn’t entirely on target, but the core of my message is that everyone trying to participate in today’s society needs to be a good writer.

And being a good writer doesn’t have to be all that hard. In fact, it can be a lot of fun.

So much of our writing training consists of experts bickering over rules that don’t matter to anyone. I’m not interested in that sort of thing.

In fact, sometimes when I’m editing Courtney’s WILAWriTWe posts I’ll move prepositions to the ends of sentences — just because! Yeah, I’m crazy like that.

How I Want to Say It

I don’t have much interest in throwing rules at you. Sometimes I’ll tell you what they are, because they can be helpful as reminders, but the rules aren’t the message. As far as the message goes…I want to show not just what you should be doing, but why you should be doing it, and how to get the most benefit from good writing with the least effort.

Sometimes my posts run longer than I want them to. I’m sure they often run longer than you want them to. But that’s why. If I were willing to say,

“In dialog attribution, always, always, always use ‘said’ as your verb.”

and leave it at that, I could give you a whole lesson in eleven words. It’s a good rule. It’s one you should pick up at some point, if you’re doing any creative writing.

But without background, without explanation so you know why (and, more importantly, when it’s a good idea to ignore it), it’s just another source of stress in your writing — another pitfall you can forget about and then feel foolish when you step into it.

I endeavor to convey that information in more than just explanation, too. I try to provide effective, recognizable examples of everything I’m saying, in every article I post. I also work to put my message in stories as much as possible, not just because stories are powerful teaching tools, but because they’re so much more fun to read.

That matters to me. Long-winded or not, I do really strive to make my material here interesting to you. Because I value your time, I respect the investment you make every time you spend part of your day to see what I have to say. I want to make sure, in those precious moments, I say something worthwhile.

Who I Want to Say It To

And to say something worthwhile, as I’ve said all along, a writer has to take time to consider who’s listening.

I’ve done it again — filled this post up with strong, direct second-person — and I could say sentimentally that my target audience is you. I’ve already said above that I think everyone can benefit from becoming a better writer.

But neither of those is a useful answer for shaping my focus or improving my message. I want to get specific.

I’ve said more than enough for a federal holiday, though. Come back tomorrow for a detailed list of the types of writers who can benefit from reading Unstressed Syllables, and what they can get out of the stuff I’m saying.

I really do hope you fall somewhere in the list. If you do, be sure to let me know. If you don’t, tell me how far off I am. Maybe you’re wasting time waiting for me to say something that will apply to you…or (much more likely) maybe I’m just working on some bad assumptions.

Either way, we’d both be better off knowing.

3 Responses to “My Message”

  1. Courtney Cantrell says:

    Thankfully, to paraphrase Mr. Churchill, your editing is something up with which I will put.

    Bahahahahahahaha, I crack me up.

    • Aaron Pogue says:

      You crack me up, too, Courtney. All the time.

      I’m glad you pulled out the Churchill quote, too. I have long loved that one. He was always a character, that guy.