Who Are We Talking To?

All fields of study are codependent on each other. Without math there would be no science; without English, there would be no history. But, the basis of every subject is writing. Around for more than 5,500 years, writing has allowed societies to civilize further, recording history and facilitating basic calculations. 

In our lives today, we can’t leave the house without seeing some form of writing. Instructions, quotes, cookbooks, phones- all of these household items would be unusable without this form of communication. You wouldn’t even be able to read this post! However, not all writing is the same. 

 Each type of writing has a different purpose and, therefore, a different significance. If you were to write a letter to congress or a reminder note to yourself, your writing style would be completely different. Your word choice, sentence length, and sentence complexity are all dependent on your audience. For example, you could probably infer the writer’s intended audience in the following sentences. 

  1. I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the business program at the University of Pennsylvania. 
  2. Go get me a slice of pizza from the fridge. 

You probably used context to infer that in Sentence 1, the recipient of this message was a college applicant. On the other hand, Sentence 2 implied an informal audience of a family member, most likely a sibling. These sentences are both forms of communication that allow us to interact with one another. As the reader of your writing changes, so does your tone! 

These patterns of tone and style changes are so noticeable that we’ve created different writing applications around them. Each type of writing has an intended purpose, audience, and formality. The following four applications of writing are perfect examples of how we change what we write to fit our audience and our message.

News Articles 

Read by the general public, these articles aim to inform, keeping society updated on the current events of the world. Fairly formal, news articles have a reputation to give the unbiased truth, which is what establishes their reputation, 

Which are you likely to trust: New York Times or Fox News? I’m sure the majority of you answered the New York Times. Why? Because Fox News has been known to be a biased source, supporting its conservative readers, and catering to them. On the other hand, The New York Times is simply reporting information. 

Fiction Books

Usually used for entertainment, fictional books are read by people looking for an escape from reality or to dive into an intriguing story. The stories authors spin are meant to whisk you away into the life of another person, escaping your own, if only for a couple of hours. 

One of the most popular book series in the world, Harry Potter is something that everyone has heard of. Most would say J.K. Rowling’s ability to spin fantasy worlds is unparalleled by any other author.

Research Papers

Research papers are also written to inform the audience. They are unique in the fact that they follow an experiment being conducted. Research papers are meant to discover something new and/or to analyze a phenomenon differently. Audiences usually are experts or fellow researchers looking for background information. 

Scientific Nobel Prize winners are determined based on research papers and the science the researchers are conducting to prove the industry-changing science they are discovering. 

Persuasive Speeches

Although speeches are verbal, the thoughts and drafts behind them are written. Speeches can have many different audiences as well as purposes; they can be informative, persuasive, entertaining, etc. Let’s take a deeper look at persuasive speeches for a minute. Their whole purpose is to convince someone to change their opinion to what you believe. This creates the toughest audience of all. Readers already have formed opinions, and the writer’s job is to persuade their audience to abandon those viewpoints, and trust a different one.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech managed to move millions of people. “I Have a Dream” propelled a movement for freedom. And you can bet your last dollar that M.L.K. wrote his speech down and practiced it before he delivered it for 250 thousand people. But the best part is that this persuasive speech was powerful enough to convince a scared population that they could change the world; they did.

Who you are talking to is a crucial part of your writing. Before you can even pick up your pencil or turn on your device, you have to determine your listeners. No matter what, writing is meant to communicate an idea. Ultimately, the format of your writing is not the most important part. If you can manage to get your idea out and to the right people, you too can change the world with the power of writing. 

About the Author

Sachi is a sophomore in high school and has a deep seated love for writing, as well as teaching. As a former private tutor, she has lots of experience in the field. Sachi has participated in a number of clubs over the years including Writer’s Club and Reader’s Club. She is also the Vice-President of Communication in the Green Level FBLA Chapter. She won first place in the Indian Heritage Society of North Carolina Essay Contest and enjoys reading in her spare time.

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