Writing to Be Understood
Anne Janzer, author
Writing To Be Understood is the thinking writer’s guide to effective nonfiction writing techniques, such as using analogies to illustrate unseen concepts, appealing to the reader's innate curiosity, and balancing credibility with humility. For each topic, the book combines insights from cognitive science with advice from writers and expert practitioners in fields of psychology, technology, economics, medicine, policy, and more.
In this straightforward, practical guide from Janzer (The Writer’s Process), the “why” of her subtitle provides her book’s most intriguing aspect. She applies insights from psychology and cognitive science, among other disciplines, to help nonfiction writers gear their work to the minds of their audience. Rather than focus exclusively on style or technique—though she does provide advice on tone and stylistic elements, such as the use of humor—Janzer seeks to figure out how to connect with readers, including hostile or resistant ones, and avoid alienating them. (Avoid overly complex sentences and “field-specific” jargon, for example.) She also explains how to take difficult issues and make them accessible and appealing to a general readership by understanding how people take in and process information. Acknowledging that readers “may be surprised by the amount of cognitive science” in what’s billed as a writing guide, she explains, per the title, “that’s because the end goal [of writing] is being understood, and understanding is a cognitive function.” It’s a unique way to approach the topic, and while it may not resonate with everyone, it’s worthy of investigation. Moreover, her belief that the world needs effective communicators of challenging and multifaceted topics provides this entry into a crowded genre with an unusually compelling reason for being. (BookLife)