Define your purpose - Step 1 – Identify readers & Purpose

7 Steps to Better Writing - Charles Maxwell 2020

Define your purpose
Step 1 – Identify readers & Purpose

After you understand your readers, define your purpose. Your purpose will have a topic and a theme. Your topic is the subject—what you want to discuss. Your theme—also called the thesis or premise—is your opinion on the topic or the meaning of the topic. As you define your purpose, ask:

· What do I hope to accomplish?

· What do I want my readers to know or think?

· What do I want them to feel?

· What do I want them to do?

Limit yourself to one topic, and determine your opinion of the topic. For example, if writing about software, the topic would be the type of software, and a possible theme could be your contention that the software is easy to use, widely available, and appropriate to your department’s needs. An alternative theme might be that the software is hard to use, limited to a few users, and therefore unsuitable.

It is normal to have to invest effort into fully identifying your message. Furthermore, perfecting your understanding generally requires an iterative approach of articulating part of your purpose and then learning more. If you have limited knowledge of your readership or only have a vague understanding of your material, start with what you know and expand your understanding through research and brainstorming. As you proceed, continue to visualize your readers and anticipate how they will react to your message. As you do, you will become more aware of points to make and ways to express them.