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Symposium 4

Great Power Competition and the Return of Inter-State Conflict?

Wednesday 4 March


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What is actually involved in writing for a military audience?

Just like with all writing, you need to be aware of your audience.


After listening, speaking and reading, we write.  It’s the fourth skill we learn and the good news is that we’ve already learnt how to do it.


To write clearly, it’s essential to understand the basics of language.  More good news: we already know how to do that too.


It’s important to know whom we are writing for in order to achieve the right tone.  Taking notes is writing for ourselves and writing a letter is writing for a targeted known audience.  Writing this blog is an example of writing for a target public audience of people who are interested in writing and reading military material.  No matter what type of writing you are doing, you should always plan to write to someone.


Knowing your audience is crucial to understanding what should go into your writing.  Considering your audience's needs will determine your content, tone, style, wording and the frequency with which you define terminology. It also helps you to decide what to write.


Once you know who your readers are, and why they may want to read your writing, you have a writing context.  We assume now that it’s just a matter of writing but actually we may just write down a whole series of things that have no logical pattern.  Don’t be put off by this.  It is often only through the act of writing that we start to see logical relationships emerge. 


Some things worth remembering:


- Writing is about constantly rewriting.  Juggle words, delete, choose again, delete and so on.


- Writing creates a space for the individual (the subject) and the idea (the object).


- Writing is decision making.  Making decisions about words and ideas can be both messy and fascinating.


- Writing is a process and you will eventually find what works for you, whether it be dumping thoughts down randomly, making an outline or writing something quickly just to get going and then revising it later, once you realise it was complete nonsense!


What to do next…


Avoid being overwhelmed by the above.  It’s actually just what you know already written down in context, logically, after being rewritten many times.  


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