Well done for taking the challenge on preparing prose documents.
Here are the solutions and some suggested next steps for you on your clarity learning journey.
1. Start the process of creating a prose document by:
Thinking through your storyline. Once you thought through your ideas and built your storyline, the creation of a prose version will be much easier.
2. Your second step would be to:
Convert your storyline into a prose outline of your final document. This means expanding on your storyline in a controlled, logical fashion rather than just dumping information into each section.
If you need to ‘dump’ your ideas down before you are ready to prepare your document, do that on a whiteboard, a notepad or a separate document rather than in your final document.
3. Your document outline should consist of:
An executive summary (containing the Context, Trigger, and Question, the Answer, and the key line points), followed by a section for each point. Keep the key lines in point form in the executive summary for clarity; they are just a preview for the audience. Once you have completed your outline, you will edit it, and at that stage you may decide the document flows better without the question. The other options were incomplete:
- The document outline should include the storyline but with the addition of an executive summary
- A brief summary of the issue and your main point is insufficient as it leaves no room for supporting your main point, or answer
- Your introduction and conclusion on their own are insufficient
4. Your executive summary does not have to include the Question. How should you decide whether to include it?
Once you have written the outline, review it. Read it out loud to yourself and see if it flows. You may find the prose does not flow with the question explicitly stated. If the question interrupts the flow and is not needed to clarify the scope of the communication, delete it. You may also wish to merge the context and trigger. Depending on the length of the document and complexity of the situation, the merged context and trigger could be a couple of paragraphs, or just one sentence.
5. The editing stage involves…
All of the ‘ions’ – Additions, Deletions, Transitions, and Conclusions.
6. What might be the likely additions as you build your document?
Additions in the edit stage would include a title, which should be a synthesis of your Answer, and some words or phrases that will help the flow of the document so it does not jump from one bullet point to the next.
7. Your document title…
…is all of the above. It is primarily a synthesis of your Answer, but can be crafted at any time, is a reference to the main topic of the document and also behaves like a newspaper headline for your document.
8. What is a ‘transition’?
Transitions are words or phrases that guide the reader through the story. They occur within sentences (such as when you introduce the Answer), between paragraphs, and at the end of sections. Read your work to see if any are needed.
9. When you inspect your prose document, you should look at:
Content – check that it is right, that you have not missed anything
Structure – check that it is correct, with all elements present
Language – check that the mode and tone are the best to use
Now that you know how to connect your storyline to a prose document, it is important to put these ideas into practice: hearing about them is one thing, but doing them is quite another. Here are some ideas to make this easier for you:
- Always map your ideas out in a separate storyline before you prepare a moderate to large document
- Ask a colleague or if appropriate your supervisor to review the storyline before you create a document to check that your logic is sound and the content is ‘spot on’
- Try neosi to map out your storyline so that there is no extra work in converting the storyline into a document: it will create the outline for you.
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Davina and Gerard