The three main elements to written communication
structure (the way the content is laid out)
style (the way it is written)
content (what you are writing about)
A good structure will help you to express yourself more clearly, whether in a dissertation, an essay, a job application letter or a CV. The following tactics may help you to structure your writing:
Clarify your thoughts and the purpose of your communication before you start writing. In business communications, clarity is more important than style.
Identify the key points, facts and themes
Decide on a logical order for what you have to say
Compose a strong introduction and ending. The first will make an immediate and positive impression on the reader; the second will remain in their mind after they have finished reading
Use short paragraphs and sentences rather than long, rambling ones. Keep to one idea per paragraph and put your point in the first line, then add the supporting information.
Help key points to stand out by the use of headings, sub-headings and bullet points. This will allow your reader to quickly scan your message for the main points.
Writing in a style appropriate to the audience
All good communicators should think about their readers:
How much information and detail will they need?
Should you use specialist terms or should you “translate” these to make yourself understood by a generalist reader?
How formal or informal should your writing be?
A scientific paper aimed at an audience of non-scientists would have to be written in simpler and less technical language.
A report in the Financial Times would be written in a very different style from one covering the same issue in the Sun
A lawyer giving advice to a client would not go into the same amount of details as to legal precedents and arguments as a law student would when writing an academic essay.
Emails sent with job applications should be treated more formally than emails to friends and family!
"Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and (use) unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous."
Writing a Review
Understand the importance of written reviews in our literate lives.
Use self-reflection and formative assessment to improve quality of writing.
Respond both orally and in writing observations from a genre study.
Test products out before writing a review for an audience of peers.
Begin your review with an introduction appropriate to your assignment. If your assignment asks you to review only one book or article and not to use outside sources, your introduction will focus on identifying the author, the title, the main topic or issue presented in the book or article, and the author's purpose for writing. If your assignment asks you to review the book or article as it relates to issues or themes discussed in the course, or to review two or more writings on the same topic, your introduction must also encompass those expectations. For example, before you can review two writings on a topic, you must explain to your reader in your introduction how they are related to one another. Within this shared context (or under this "umbrella") you can then review comparable aspects of both writings, pointing out where the authors agree and differ. In other words, the more complicated your assignment is, the more your introduction must accomplish. Finally, the introduction to a book or article review is always the place for you to establish your position as the reviewer (your thesis about the author's thesis).
DISCUSSING VARIOUS ASPECTS OF A FILM
The full transcript of Pa. Ranjith’s interview on the movie ‘Madras’
Why do you think 'Madras' has been elevated to a special place in Tamil cinema by commentators and critics?
'Madras' is a film about Dalits and their way of life. In Tamil cinema, the perception about culture and the lifestyle of Dalits has been distorted to a great extent. The people of North Madras have been shown as violent people with no great ideas. However, North Madras is a place where the youth love hip-hop and where Michael Jackson, football and Bob Marley are popular. The popular culture of Black people has caught up in North Madras. Majority of the youth are educated, hard working and upwardly mobile. The audience, I think, like this film because it celebrates the vibrant cultural life of those living in North Madras.
Can you elaborate on the distortions of people of North Madras in Tamil cinema?
For example, when I appeared in some television discussions, I was told that the ‘Tamil’ spoken in the film is not the Tamil spoken in North Madras. I was surprised. What kind of Tamil that people think they speak in North Madras? What is considered the ‘Madras’ slang has evolved with time like everything else but the perception one gets from Tamil cinema is different.
The language people speak; the rise in literacy levels, their interest in sports and the general cultural changes that have taken place over the years have not been reflected in our movies. Even the Gaana songs, which are so popular in Tamil cinema, are being used only as ‘item songs’ in movies. But, people sing Gaana songs for all kinds of occasions. In my first two films, I have tried to use Gaana as a love song.
Can you explain the film for starters?
In my view, it is about competing ideas of two people: Anbu who thinks that political power is enough to change the systemic issues, and Kali who rejects party politics and feels that education empowers people. He believes in getting to the root of the problem. Kali is a progressive, rational person, which is why he can’t pursue the politics of Anbu. It leans towards a Periyarite-Ambedkarite politics.
Why do you think mainstream journalists missed the political references in Madras?
I don’t know honestly. This film very openly talks about politics and politics concerning the Dalits. It is a mainstream film. For instance, Kali (the protagonist) reads ‘Theendadha Vasantham’, a very notable book in the history of Dalit literature. Dr. Ambedkar’s books are placed prominently in the book shelf of the hero and other characters. The female protagonist’s father belongs to the Republican Party of India. The colour blue – associated with Ambedkarite politics – is featured prominently in the film. I don’t know how a film critic can say that ‘I don’t understand Ambedkarite politics or know about the life of people living in North Chennai’. There was nothing hidden for the critic to interpret it. It was for everyone to see.
On the criticism that it turned into a revenge saga:
The wall is just a signifier of the conflict. It doesn’t say that the end of power struggle around the wall signifies the end of the social conflict itself. I have tried to say that oppression exists and people like Kali are beginning to find rational ways to end the oppression.
On the criticism that the film celebrates a specific caste:
I disagree with films that reinforce the greatness of certain castes. This is not that kind of a film. In fact, this is a film that calls for annihilation of caste and an end to discrimination.
On responsibility of a filmmaker when tackling issues of caste in movies:
Caste is a social reality in India. As far as I am concerned, the films about caste should expose the status quo and shine light on the system that reinforces and reproduces caste hierarchies. I admire Iranian filmmakers for the way in which they criticise the dominant conservative ideology of their society even with strict state censorship. In India, we don’t grapple with such censorship. Indian filmmakers have to protect this freedom and make responsible films that do not rob us of our right to make such films. In Tamil cinema, I think Vazhakku En was a powerful film, which spoke truth to the power. When we place the systemic issues before the people, it is my belief that they will start thinking about how to solve it.
Why do films about issues related to caste discrimination are far and few in Tamil Cinema?
There is a market for films that celebrates caste supremacy and is in praise of certain communities. But, producers don’t back a film about life and culture of Dalits because there is no market. Despite the fact that highly successful actors and filmmakers coming from the community, films featuring Dalit characters and cultures aren’t being made simply because the market for such films hasn’t been created. We need to create that market. I was told that Madras wouldn’t do well in Southern regions of Tamil Nadu because of its content. It has defied these predictions.