May 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”

—Arthur Polotnik

Word Pair of the Month: concave, convex

Many things in life come down to a matter of perspective. For example, whether something is concave or convex is determined by which side you are facing. Something concave is curved inward, as though it is “caving in” away from you. Something convex curves toward you, like a bubble. So if you are looking at something concave, curving away from you, people on the other side would consider it convex, curving toward them.

May Writer’s Forum Question

We recently celebrated yet another Earth Day, a time to consider the natural state of the world and what we can do to preserve it—and us. “Green” is increasingly important in business. What does your office do to be more earth friendly?

L’Shondra Kelly says her office makes a concerted effort to collect recyclables.

We have large bins labeled “plastic,” “glass,” and “paper” set up in the break room, with one very small can for nonrecyclable garbage. We try to use as little paper as possible, but we all have recycling bins by our desks, and our manager encourages us to use the backs of unused copies for scrap paper, as long as the information on the front isn’t destined for the shredder. And yes, we do shred documents that contain private information, collect the shreds, and give them to a recycler.

Looking at “green” another way, Jake Raymond, a Cincinnati office manager, encourages plants at work.

I head a small accounting firm, and my wife runs a garden center. It was her idea to fill the office with plants, and she even came in and did an in-service session with my workers on how to care for the greenery. Everyone liked the idea, and now a plant mister is just one of the tools on each person’s desk, right next to the computer. The air seems fresher, and there’s actually a calmer feel to the office.

Maya Gonzalez of Fort Worth seems to have the ultimate in earth-friendly design.

Our building is brand-new and was designed as a model of eco-friendly efficiency. We have our own wind generator, which provides some of our power. Our heat radiates through hot-water pipes beneath the floor. The work area is one huge room with low-walled cubicles, which gives a degree of privacy to each worker but allows the air to circulate easily. Large windows and skylights can be opened on nice days for fresh air. This benefit and the natural light cut down on our use of the air conditioning and the electric lighting. We also have a large garden area right in the middle of the workspace. It’s a cool, calm place, complete with benches for lunch breaks and socializing. We’re very happy with it.

A Final Thought

When writing to persuade someone to use your business or your product, go ahead and list all of its best features; but more important, explain how your reader will specifically benefit from using your goods or services. People want to know what’s in it for them. If you can convince them that you’ll meet their need, they’ll be happy to hear about your product’s bells and whistles.

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