Writing eTips UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You
April 2007 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

To write simply is as difficult as to be good.

—William Somerset Maugham

Word Pair of the Month: liable, libel
Here are two words that are easily confused since both have legal, negative implications.

Liable refers to legal responsibility, or being exposed to an adverse reaction.

Due to his admitted negligence, the defendant was liable for all damages.

Libel, also a legal term, refers to a false negative statement written or printed about someone. (Note that a verbal negative statement is called “slander.”)

When Julia read the lies printed about her in the paper, she immediately began a libel suit against the columnist.

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April Writers’ Forum Topic
What was your best writing experience at work? Did you write a successful grant proposal? Create a company brochure? Receive positive feedback on writing well done? Share your experience and your feelings about it.

Diane Johnson, CFO of Cambridge, Ltd., wrote: “Believe it or not, the writing I was most proud of was a simple memo, sent out to inform employees of some small but still significant negative changes necessitated by financial reverses. I felt I couched the difficult news in the most positive light possible, and the feedback I received let me know that people appreciated the respect my words showed, clearly giving reasons for the cutbacks in benefits and reflecting the company’s sincere regret at having to make these decisions.”

Jenna Karchinsky of Baines Fixtures wrote: “How about my worst writing? I was young and cocky, new to the company, and took it upon myself to rework our new-client welcome letter. I thought it was bright, brash, and modern, but my supervisor, Marcus, couldn’t keep from laughing at it. He pointed out some embarrassing idioms, the worst being where I welcomed the client ‘to the Baines soup’ (we manufacture hot tubs). When I got over being embarrassed, I rewrote the thing in a more professional manner, and after a few more revisions, finally got it right. Marcus framed the original and hung it over my desk as a reminder to make the words fit the purpose.”

Thanks to everyone who responded. Watch for our next forum question in the May issue of Writing eTips.

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Coming in May:
The Writing Process: Drafting, Part II—Writing Openings, Middles, and Closings
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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2007, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.