Explore the Composing Strategies with a Model
Consider a sample problem to illustrate the composing process: Chaya Sotelo, a graduate of Martinique College, has noticed that the online newsletter, The Martinique, contains little information about the careers and lives of alumni. Occasionally, the newsletter carries a brief report about a former student who has gone on to be quite successful, but she would like to see stories about the careers of “everyday” alumni too. You will follow Chaya through the process of writing a short informal proposal to the editor, in which she suggests a solution. Chaya decides to write the summary last, pulling ideas for the summary from the proposal.
To help the editor understand the problem, Chaya considers the “why” question. She writes a clear statement of the problem: Except for occasional brief reports, no news about the careers and lives of Martinique College alumni appears in the online newsletter The Martinique. Then she lists her goals, as follows:
· Include specific features on alumni and their chosen careers.
· Include general news about alumni.
· Report on alumni who deserve attention for their career achievements.
· Provide a forum for alumni.
· Encourage more alumni to read the website.
Chaya brainstorms several solutions to meet these goals: (1) Develop a link on the website for alumni to submit personal and career information, (2) request that alumni be given space for contributions, and (3) ask The Martinique to cover alumni news in a more comprehensive manner.
Chaya moves from brainstorming to analysis. For each solution she developed, she lists positives and negatives. For example, for the first solution, developing links on the website, she lists the following:
|Alumni would be able to highlight positive aspects of graduating from Martinique.||Would enough alumni be interested?|
|Alumni and students would be able to network.||Would alumni be willing to participate?|
|Alumni would read and support their website.||Would alumni read the website and support its sponsors?|
Chaya realizes that her proposal is directed to an editor, Gina Hollinger, who is interested in the effects of Chaya’s proposed action on Ms. Hollinger’s work: profits, personnel, schedule, and image. Chaya knows that a solid plan with accurate facts and figures is necessary to convince her reader. After choosing the plan with the most “positives” and the least “negatives,” she again brainstorms ideas to include in the body of her proposal.
Chaya decides that the best solution is to include an article in the quarterly online newsletter The Martinique. She must assure Ms. Hollinger of a sound plan for implementing this idea. Chaya explains the specifics of her idea and proposes how the work will be done. To make the work process clear, she develops a chart that shows each step in the development of the feature. The chart identifies who or what is responsible for each phase. Chaya uses this chart to check for steps she might have overlooked.
Chaya prepares to write her conclusion by reviewing her strongest selling points. She knows that her closing should include a summary of key points and make a call to action. Chaya presents the benefits of including a new alumni-generated column in The Martinique and asks Ms. Hollinger to consider adding the new feature to the quarterly online newsletter. Chaya also offers to volunteer if the proposal is accepted. In addition, she provides her contact with information that makes it easier for Ms. Hollinger to respond to the proposal. Read Chaya’s final two-page draft in Figure 14.2.
Figure 14.2 Informal Proposal for an External Audience
STOP AND THINK
In a large organization, different people are likely to read only the sections of a proposal relating to their area of expertise. Name the sections the following employees might read: a chief executive officer (CEO), a technical expert, and a comptroller (financial officer).
Select three textbooks and examine them to determine the parts that make up each book. Make a list of the elements you find. For example, how does the book begin? Is the first element a title page or a note to the reader?
The preceding section of this chapter presented information about informal proposals. Informal and formal proposals are similar. Both are persuasive documents that offer the writers’ answers to the readers’ problems or needs. In both proposals, writers choose from the same optional subsections in the same order under the headings Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.
Formal proposals may differ from informal proposals in the following ways:
· Tone, such as the detached, professional voice writers might use with a high-level official
· Additional parts of the report, such as the glossary, appendixes, and transmittal correspondence
· Complexity of the outcome, such as the construction of a new building or the $2 billion purchase of jet airliners
Although formal proposals are not used as frequently as informal proposals, they are called for in many circumstances. The following examples are typical:
· A marine biologist, disturbed by the fish kills in a local estuarine system, wants to study the effect of municipal wastewater dumping on the fish. The biologist seeks funds from the State Department of Fish and Wildlife for a five-year project.
· The owner of a Montessori preschool receives an RFP from a local assisted-living center to open a branch of the preschool at the center.
· A mechanic in a ball-bearing plant is inspired to improve the precision of a robotic welding machine after studying similar machines at another facility. Having decided on the adjustments needed and the cost in work hours and materials, the mechanic requests approval from her manager.
Prewriting techniques should help you plan to write a formal proposal. During the prewriting phase, you collect and organize data and determine your objectives. Because a formal proposal is often longer and more involved than other technical reports, prewriting is especially important.