College of Staten Island
 The City University of New York
Center for the Arts

  Harry Thorne,
  WAC Coordinator
  Office: Building 2S Rm 227
  Email WAC

Writing Across the Curriculum/
Writing in the Disciplines
for Students

 How to Think About Your Audience

It is really helpful when you’re writing a paper to think about writing for people other than your professor. Honestly, your professor probably isn’t that excited to read papers that are written in a way that only she would want to read. To write for a broader audience, I imagine that I’m writing the paper for someone specific other than a professor to read. Often, I try to write a paper that my mom would understand. My mom is a good person for me to think about when writing: she’s super excited about reading my work, but she isn’t a historian, so she won’t understand what I’m talking about unless I make it clear. I’ve been trying to write some big new arguments lately, and I’ve been struggling to make them make sense to anyone other than me. When I write a draft, I use weird jargon and my sentences are too long, so what should be really impressive just reads like the word equivalent of a 65-car expressway pileup. If I think about how to write the same ideas in a way that my mom can understand, I end up going through and finding ways to clear things up. Doing this really pays off because not only can my mom read my work, but other historians can understand what I’m actually talking about instead of making a fuzzy guess based on what they think I’m talking about. When you’re editing a paper, think about which parts of writing you want to work on, and who you could imagine writing for that would require you to make those aspects of the paper really good.

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