Don't Let Your Words Obstruct Your Meaning

"You probably know that understanding your audience is essential if you want a document to work. But this means understanding not just their level of knowledge of the subject at hand, but also their history, their cultural references and associations and their past experiences, argues Livia Blackburne."

I guest posted at  this week on the psychological idea of schemas and how writers can use them to inform their word choices.  Check out my  post here.

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Also, friend of the blog Gail Gauthier recently re-released her backlist title Saving the Planet & Stuff.  Michael Racine is spending a miserable summer alone at home when he stumbles upon a temporary job and housing with his grandparents’ friends, Walt Marcello and Nora Blake. Walt and Nora made names for themselves in the environmental movement with their magazine, "The Earth’s Wife," and Michael believes he’s headed for an internship with them that could rival the summer activities of his far more industrious and accomplished friends. Lack of air conditioning and biking to work get old very fast for him, though, and he has trouble taking seriously Nora’s concerns about the environmental impact of golf courses and Walt’s interest in composting toilets. He gets to leave his hosts’ solar home each weekday only to be faced with turmoil and revolt among "The Earth’s Wife"’s staff. How can Michael—or Walt and Nora—decide on the right course of action?

"Saving the Planet & Stuff" was originally published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons. This new edition includes an unpublished short story that uses early versions of the Walt and Nora characters, as well as a new cover illustration by Eric Bloom.


  1. I read your full article. It was really well thought out and written with helpful examples. I enjoy your unique perspective on writing pointers.
    By the way, I wrote about mental models and the "Ladder of Inference" which you might be interested in on my blog. It's part of the the "f" letter post of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

    1. Filters is a great way to put it, Jagoda. Thanks for the link.

  2. I loved your article. I think schemas have quite a bit to do with the way I "misread" someone else's poem on a Wordpress site.

    I just posted an explanation on my blog:

    and included a link to your website and article.

    Brain science is fascinating.

    Thanks for the insight! I hope grad school is going well.