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Action Writing
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Garbl's Action Writing Links is an annotated directory of websites that can help you get people to read your writing, keep readers interested and persuade them to respond while they're reading or afterward. In a democracy, we each have the right and the responsibility to speak out on matters that concern us.


line Writing persuasively
line Writing news articles, Web pages and more
line Writing elected officials
line Writing letters to the editor

Writing for the Web

Besides the desirable reader responses described elsewhere on this page, we also may want people to keep reading and using our Web sites--without clicking away.

This annotated directory lists websites that can aid you in writing for the Web. Also visit the Plain Language page for advice valuable to Web writing.

Why do you write or want to write? To entertain? To inform? To explain? To persuade? Those are the most common purposes for writing, at least if you're writing something for someone else to read.

Whatever our purpose in writing, we usually have some hope or expectation that the reader will respond in some way--in what she or he feels, thinks or does.

The response we seek as writers might be subtle, small and invisible, or it might be substantial, enormous and observed by thousands:

  • All we may hope for is a smile or a jog of the memory or a clarification of a particular fact.
  • Or we may seek an email message from a friend in return, a letter printed in a newspaper, a published news release about our community club event or a top grade on a research paper.
  • Or we may be hoping for that book contract, that phone call from an employer for an interview, that changed vote of our elected representative.

Even if you're not interested in writing letters to editors or politicians or getting a news release published, the tips provided by the websites listed here can aid you in making your writing more effective.

In combination with the advice on the Plain Language page, the advice here can help you fulfill your needs as a writer by helping you meet the needs of the people to whom you write.


Speaking Out: Your Right. Your Responsibility.

"Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not"--Robert F. Kennedy, 1925-1968, paraphrasing playwright George Bernard Shaw.

Use your writing, speaking and thinking skills to make a difference in your community, your country and your world.

Mindless loyalty is neither patriotism nor a principle of a democratic nation.


The Secret of My Success--Harley Hahn, writer, computing consultant and author of many Internet books, including Harley Hahn's Internet & Web Yellow Pages
"Whenever someone spends more effort helping you than it would take to write a thank-you note, send a note."

LetterRep.com--Robert Noyes, Florida
Hundreds of pre-written sample letters that you can copy, paste, edit and print--for free. Letters include complaints, condolences, congratulations, cover letters, recommendations and requests.


Writing persuasively

This persuasive-writing list needs some serious updating! As websites change, remove content or die, I try to update this website. Please stay tuned.

bullet Persuasive Writing--Anne Creed, SuperWriter.com, Columbia, South Carolina

"Our message must always be crafted to appeal to our audience's self-interest."

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Writing news articles, Web pages and more

Basic news writing is built on a writing method called the inverted pyramid. Journalists use it effectively, but it's also useful for other types of writing--from writing for the Web to writing letters to friends and employers to writing executive summaries in corporate reports. An essential ingredient is a beginning that grabs the reader immediately because it is interesting, informative or important.

bullet How Users Read on the Web--Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., user advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, Fremont, California

Renowned expert on Web usability recommends use of highlighted words, subheadings, bulleted lists, one idea per paragraph and inverted pyramid writing style.

bullet Web Writing for Many Interest Levels--Nathan Wallace, founder of Synop Software, Sydney, Australia

"A writer should help each reader get their desired level of information as quickly as possible."

bullet We Can Learn From Newspapers--Dan Bricklin, founder and chief technology officer, Trellix Corp., Concord, Massachusetts

This article describes some newspaper techniques applicable to screen-based Web documents, including sections, heads, leads and the inverted pyramid.

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Writing elected officials

bullet How to write your congressperson--Protest.Net, a site for progressive activists

"Whether you use the Internet or the postal system, there are certain basic rules to follow when writing to elected officials."

bullet Influencing Legislation by Writing Letters--Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara, California

"Letters to politicians and officials are most effectively written in plain language reflecting that a particular issue represents a lot of votes."

bullet Tips on Writing Your Elected Officials--American Civil Liberties Union

Six tips for increasing the effectiveness of your letter.

bullet Writing to elected officials--Sierra Club

"Choose the three strongest points to support your argument and develop them clearly." Also includes tips on writing letters to the editor.

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Writing letters to the editor

bullet Tips on Writing a Letters to the Editor--American Civil Liberties Union, New York, New York

"Keeping your letter brief will help assure that your important points are not cut out by the newspaper."

bullet How to Communicate with Journalists--Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

"When you write to journalists, be factual, not rhetorical."

bullet How to Write Letters to the Editor--Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

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Created and maintained by Gary B. Larson of Seattle, Washington, garbltoo@gmail.com.

Updated July 12, 2012.