October 2012  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

How well do you know your phrases? In grammar speak, a phrase is a group of words lacking either a subject, a predicate, or both. There are six types of phrases: noun, verb, appositive, absolute, prepositional, and verbal (of which there are three types—either gerund, infinitive, or participial).

Each sentence below contains one type of phrase in italics. Can you name each one? Answers can be found near the end of this newsletter.

  1. Her hands trembling and cold, Lauren fumbled to compose a text response.
  2. Stuffing envelopes is not the staff’s favorite activity.
  3. We were managing just fine without any help.
  4. The company’s mission statement was prominently displayed above the door.
  5. To finish the project has become our single focus.
  6. Ms. Davis, our new CEO, gave an inspiring presentation.
  7. Exhausted by his run, the courier collapsed.
  8. We stared in shock at the ransacked room.

Efficient First Drafts

After finishing your research and other prewriting tasks, it’s time to draft your piece. A first draft is the initial working document that emerges as you transform your notes and ideas into a piece of writing. At this point, you needn’t worry about spelling, grammar, correct word usage, or capitalization. Here are some tips:

  • First, collect all your prewriting materials. Read through your notes to get an overall feeling for the information you’ve gathered. Arrange them into a sensible order.
  • Mark important ideas. Note the specific data, facts, or statements you want to include in your work.
  • Review your organization. You may have used a graphic organizer during your prewriting, anything from a simple list to a full-sentence outline. Whatever organizational plan you’ve made, follow it; but feel free to change or veer from that plan as you draft. New ideas will often occur to you as your work takes shape.
  • Write to the end. If possible, write your first draft in one sitting, from beginning to end. Avoid dwelling too long on one section, and don’t start revising. Just get it all down. Of course, some long writing projects require more time, and other responsibilities may also prevent you from completing a first draft in one sitting. After a break, pick up the thread by rereading what you’ve written so far, but avoid polishing that part. Instead, move ahead to complete the first draft.

When you’ve finished, you may read through your draft to add an idea you have obviously missed, or to delete anything distracting. But it is not time for a full revision, or to look for spelling, grammar, or usage errors. Instead, set your draft aside and take a break. You can come back to it later, with a fresh eye. During this break, consider asking a trusted colleague to read your work—focusing on ideas, not surface errors. You can use your colleague’s feedback later when you revise your work.

You can find more on the writing process beginning on page 71 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

That Little Extra

If you’re starting a new business, you have many details to attend to, and one of the most important is the name you will give your enterprise. The right name provides that very important first impression. So choose one that is related to your service or product, easy to remember, and original. Before making a final decision, remember to do a trademark search. Trademarkia.com is an online site that can tell whether the name of your company, domain, or patent is available. The site also includes answers to your trademark questions and can even generate logo ideas for visually presenting your company name.

   

October Writers' Forum Topic

Here’s your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we’ll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

You may be aware of Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” But do you know Murphy’s Law of Thermodynamics? “Things get worse under pressure.” It often seems that just when a deadline looms, computers crash, copy machines break down, a team member falls ill, an important file is misplaced, and so on. Do you have any tips for dealing with these seemingly entropic forces, for remaining calm in stressful times, and for getting the job done despite malfunctions and misfortunes? Please share them here with other eTips readers.

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “October Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

Answers to This Month’s Quiz

  1. Her hands trembling and cold, Lauren fumbled to compose a text response. [Absolute phrase: Including a noun (hands), a participle (trembling), and other modifiers, the phrase acts as an adjective and adds information to the whole sentence.]
  2. Stuffing envelopes is not the staff’s favorite activity. [Verbal: Including a gerund (stuffing) and its object (envelopes), the gerund phrase acts as a noun.]
  3. We were managing just fine without any help. [Verb phrase: The phrase includes the main verb (managing) and a helping verb (were).]
  4. The company’s mission statement was prominently displayed above the door. [Prepositional phrase: Including a preposition (above) and its object (the door), this prepositional phrase acts as an adverb.]
  5. To finish the project has become our single focus. [Verbal: Including an infinitive (to finish) and its object (the project), this infinitive phrase acts as a noun.]
  6. Ms. Davis, our new CEO, gave an inspiring presentation. [Appositive phrase: This phrase follows a noun (Ms. Davis), identifying it and adding further information.]
  7. Exhausted by his run, the courier collapsed. [Verbal: Including a participle (exhausted) and its modifier (by his run), the participial phrase acts as an adjective.]
  8. We stared in shock at the ransacked room. [Noun phrase: The phrase includes a noun (room) and its modifiers (the ransacked).]

We Want to Hear from You!

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you’d like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

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Revision Tips

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