Plain business writing course (entry 2): Plan to write better – the hook

Anyone can write - but so, too, anyone can learn to write better. Follow this blog to see how. I'll be teaching you how to write so your readers will respond as you would like them to.

The course will be built around the acronym 'PLAIN': Planned, Lean, Accurate, In the active tense, and Nice and neat.

We said rule 1 was that to write better, you need to step back and write something your READER wants to read. Plan your document around your reader, and start by dangling a hook that he or she cannot resist.

Rule 2: Dangle a hook

Spot the hook in this email:

Hi Andy

You asked about our service offering, and you'll be glad to hear that you qualify for a 30% discount on all orders that you place this month.

Our services include translation, editing and copywriting, but I think you're more interested in the editing part for now? I attach more information on that, together with a rate quote.

Please let me know if you have any more questions.

Best regards,

Linda

Note that the mail starts by answering the reader's question. Also note that the first line repeats the word 'you' four times, while there's only one 'our' – that's the writer stepping back and putting the reader in the spotlight. And there's a nice hook in the form of a discount.

To sum up: To write better, hold out a hook in your first sentence by giving information that will benefit your reader. (Tip: It often has to do with money!)

Earlier posts on business writing: