Providing Relevant Information

Once you have identified your intended audience, the next step is to make sure that the details you provide are the most relevant and important ones. Consider the following:

William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. This was during the Elizabethan time period in England. By his thirties, he had become an important playwright and actor. He wrote in iambic pentameter. This meter was used in both his sonnets and his plays. It mimicked the rhythms of natural speech.

This is probably more background than necessary. What information is important here? Well, that depends on your argument. If you're concerned with Shakespeare's life, you can leave out the bits about his meter. Similarly, if you're just interested in his poetry, the details of his life may be irrelevant, unless you plan to make a point about iambic pentameter in Elizabethan poetry.

Simply put, don't explain more than you need to for the sake of your argument.

Concise Presentation

There is, however, another way to think about the example above. Instead of saying that the Shakespeare paragraph has too many ideas, perhaps we should say that it has too many words. Let's see what happens if we make the paragraph more concise:

William Shakespeare was born in Elizabethan England in 1564. By his thirties, he had become an important poet and playwright. He wrote in iambic pentameter, which mimicked the rhythms of natural speech.

Now, with the word count reduced from 51 to 32, all the details appear relevant. The ideas within each sentence are compactly expressed, and the paragraph makes a smooth transition from biographical information to matters of literary technique.

We see here one of the virtues of concision. Concise writers get away with saying more than wordy writers do. They can put more detail into their writing without appearing to lose the thread of their argument or wasting the time of knowledgeable readers.

Question for consideration: What assumptions about my readers' knowledge have I made in this example? What can you tell about the characteristics of my intended audience?

Next, let's consider how to present important terms in a way which will help your readers understand your argument.

Awareness of Audience

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