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A Wordsmith's Manifesto

Part 3: Craft versus Content


From cookbook authors to playwrights, there are two basic types of writers: those whose work is content-oriented, and those whose work is craft-oriented.

  • Content-oriented writers: subject matter experts who can type. A content-oriented writer's chief value lies in their subject-matter expertise.
  • Craft-oriented writers: communications experts who specialize in gathering, processing, and presenting information in written words. A craft-oriented writer's chief value lies in expert written communication, regardless of subject matter.


the limits of expert knowledge

When you buy a book on portrait photography, an expert in portrait photography probably wrote it. The fact that his or her book made it to print makes him or her a published writer. He or she could probably provide good tips about writing and publishing, too. Still, don’t expect a portrait photographer to write an effective news release on a corporate merger, a moving eulogy, or popular article on shrewd investment management.

the possibilities of skill and talent

Some people can sketch a remarkable likeness with pencil and paper in a flash. Others can deliver an excellent speech with no preparation at all. The sketch artist and impromptu speaker do not necessarily specialize in any subject. Skill and talent make their sketches and speeches exceptional.

a pen mightier than a sword

Similarly, craft-oriented writers can gather, process and present information more effectively than many subject-matter experts even imagine. Rapid learners, they take a fresh, complete approach, valuing objectivity. Comprehending the truth and armed with skill and talent, a craft-oriented writer can help you to get a clear message through the information overload that inundates most target audiences.


It's not just what you say but also how you say it.


state the goal, provide the information

A craft-oriented writer specializes in wordcraft itself. It does not matter whether the information you need to present is new or old, dull or fascinating. A craft-oriented writer absorbs information like a glutton and aims to communicate the right information effectively to the intended audience. The more you involve a craft-oriented writer in the process of achieving communications goals, the more value you can reap from their involvement. That’s because a true wordsmith revels in the challenge of making ideas affect people such as getting their attention, touching their values, and compelling them to act.

the battle for your market’s minds

Think of all those channels on TV, the world on the web, books, magazines, radio, junk mail, voice mail, snail mail, e-mail, telephone, fax, billboards, and newspapers. Any message you need to communicate for any reason from a sales pitch to simple instructions will either get through or get lost. The challenge today is to be heard amidst the roar.

winners get expert help

The competition for attention alone is fierce. As you face that challenge, a craft-oriented writer can be a valuable ally in the battle for your market’s minds. For some, winning that battle is important enough, and the risk of losing it compelling enough, to involve a craft-oriented writer; even a consummate wordsmith.


- Glenn R Harrington, Articulate Consultants Inc.


Click for A Wordsmith's Manifesto part I

Click for A Wordsmith's Manifesto part II


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