There are many guides to writing but few that cover the variety in How to Write Anything, by Laura Brown, a business writing coach and teacher, who’s work included teaching at Columbia University.
As the title states, How to Write Anything covers the best way to write about mundane matters, such as complaint letters, a sympathy note, or a request to be excused from jury duty. Along with over 100 other topics, each example includes a sample letter, showing its flaws, followed by a model letter that makes the desired point in a gracious manner.
Think we don’t write letters anymore? There are also sections that cover proper email messages, presentations, letters of recommendation, meeting minutes, news articles, perhaps a eulogy for a loved one, and many other topics we all need to deal with in daily life.
The basics of good writing are illustrated by the author’s suggested structure of defining the purpose, identifying the prospective reader, brainstorming and organizing the content, writing a first draft and eventually a final revision. While you can start anywhere in this process and write in any order, going through each step ensures you’ve covered the basics of effective communication.
Writing, like anything else, gets easier with practice, and by cultivating the writing habit to express your thoughts, you will find communicating to get your message across will succeed more each time.
Most ‘how to’ books are not for everyone, but How to Write Anything, at almost 600 pages, truly is for everyone who needs to or wants to write well, from letters, school work, business, history, research, science, or for pleasure. What the book does not include is creative writing, such as fiction or poetry. Yet the skills Brown teaches can transfer to creative writing if the urge strikes. The need to communicate well in life is never-ending, and this guide can save so much time by sharing the structure and examples of effective correspondence.
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