Another Recommended Book: Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact, by Dalya F. Massachi

If you want to communicate clearly, you have to write clearly. If you want to write clearly, you want this book.

"Writing to make a Difference" by Dalya MassachiWhile her focus is tilted toward grassroots and nonprofit/not-for-profit community organizations, about 98 percent of her advice is equally applicable to business—especially green, socially conscious, ethical businesses that need to communicate a bigger message than “buy my stuff.”

Massachi has a light touch that turns a could-have-been-deadly subject into an enjoyable read, and the textbook-like format is full of exercises, nice little interjections, personal experience, and such. Which makes it a lot more palatable than the grammar and style textbooks of my youth. I’d even go so far as to say that this is a book that I’d have liked to have written, and certainly one I wish I’d had when I was starting my career as a social-change and environmental action writer.

Still, I wanted to take it a little at a time, so I could absorb it properly. Now that I’ve gotten all the way through, I’m sure I’ll be referring to it when I hit a grammar snag.

Not to say the book is perfect. Some of the later chapters get a bit bogged down in grammatical minutiae, and there are a few places where I would argue with her style choices. Example: call me old-fashioned, but to me, the only time you’d use an apostrophe after a set of initials is as a possessive: “NGO’s” can *only* mean “belonging to an NGO” [Non-Governmental Organization]. But to Dalya, a generation younger than me, using that construction as a plural noun is a valid if unfortunate choice.

Be sure to read the appendices; otherwise, you’ll miss the excellent brief sections on writing for audio and video, as well as a wonderful list of “visionary” trigger words (right after a list of marketing trigger words)—these are the words that tug at our readers’ heartstrings and help us frame the narrative. And that’s something that far too often, progressives have been clumsy with.

A must for the shelf of any serious business or nonprofit writer, and even more so for employees or managers who are not writers but get thrown a writing project (if they don’t want to contact someone like Dalya or me to do it for them). Nicely indexed and crammed with resources, too.

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