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Memorandum

To:

Aaron Schab

From:

Kieron Teets

Date:

September 13, 2015

Subject:

Writing Analysis

This memo outlines the strengths and weaknesses in my writing. The sections below cover the
four concepts of technical writing: being concise, precise, direct, and emphatic.

Being Concise
Being concise in writing means every word in a sentence is needed. When analyzing my book
review on The Creatures of Empire, I noticed that I continued to use the phrase were benefiting
from within the same sentences. I used this phrase to show the symbiotic relationship between
Native Americans and colonists throughout colonial times. The original excerpt is as follows:
It also touches on the fact that the Native Americans were benefitting from the colonists
and the colonists were benefitting from the Native Americans, and neither group was
causing conflict with the other.
I feel as though it was unnecessary to use this phrase continually. It added no new and pertinent
information to the sentence. The sentence with the revised phrase could read:
It also touches on the fact that the Native Americans and the colonists had a beneficial
relationship, and neither group was causing conflict with the other.
Be Precise
Being precise means choosing the appropriate details for writing based on the audience and their
educational background. If the audience wouldnt understand medical or scientific terminology,
it shouldnt be used. Sometimes simple explanations will suffice to get the point across without
losing the audience. I feel as though I do a good job at being precise. Most of the writing I do is
in the form of scientific reports aimed at an audience of my peers. In my example, I talk about
how the Idaho government deals with maintaining the wolf population. I feel as though I am able
to utilize scientific terminology without straying too far into technical terminology. My excerpt is
as follows:

The government should have made a better and more thorough decision regarding
delisting wolves. Now, because wolves were delisted, there is more conflict than when
wolves were still protected by the Endangered Species Act. The Legislature regularly
talks about how to protect the wolf population and the actions it needs to put in place to
keep hunters from annihilating the wolf population in its entirety (Alderman, J. H.
2009).

Be Direct
Being direct means knowing the difference between active and passive voice, and using them
appropriately. With active voice, the person doing the action is the subject of the sentence. The
verbs associated with this are strong and powerful. With passive voice, the person doing the
action is implied, and the subject is either the action or the object being acted upon. Passive
voice is a poor writing technique because it makes it hard for readers to identify the point of the
writing and it creates unnecessary sentence fluff. When analyzing my writing, I identified some
passages that could be revised using the active voice. The original excerpt is as follows:
The United States government has attempted to raise awareness about this [river] abuse
and has been attempting to prevent future abuse through multiple agencies like the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and through multimedia, billboard, and ad
campaigns.
I used the passive voice to show that the government has been addressing the issue of river abuse
for decades. Passive voice works for this sentence, but active voice splits the sentence into two,
more understandable sentences. The restructured sentences could read:
The United States government attempts to raise awareness about this [river] abuse. The
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one institution that promotes river prevention
through multimedia, billboard, and ad campaigns.
Be Emphatic
Being emphatic means structuring sentences to create emphasis on the important ideas. Emphasis
usually belongs towards the beginning of a sentence or else the sentence flows poorly. When
analyzing my writing, I found that I tend to put emphasis at the beginning of each sentence. The
excerpt is as follows:
In the 19th century, America expanded its borders west in an attempt to fulfill the idea
of manifest destiny. In the 20th century, America turned its attention towards taming the
vast territories that it had acquired.

Placing emphasis on the specific time periods allows the reader to understand the context. If the
time period was to be placed at the end of each sentence, it would read:
America expanded its borders west in an attempt to fulfill the idea of manifest destiny in
the 19th century. America turned its attention towards taming the vast territories that it had
acquired in the 20th century.
The sentences do not place emphasis in the right spots now, which distracts from the overall
meaning that is being conveyed.
Conclusion
Some concepts I struggle with, others I excel at. The majority of my writing is scientific reports,
so I am fairly good at being precise and keeping the material understandable to most audiences.
However, I tend to write in the passive voice, which distracts from the information being
conveyed in my writing. Overall, I am trying to fix the problems I have with my writing style so
that lard and unnecessary information is left out, and hopefully my writing becomes better over
time.