Writing has two components. And together they are the writer’s Voice. 1. The content or Message: the idea the writer wishes to convey. 2. The Style of the writing, which is another way of saying use clear unambiguous language to communicate. And communication is one of children’s eleven Hybrid Skills.

No matter whether it is an essay written in middle school, a book report, a college application essay, letter, memorandum, or something more ambitious such as a proposal or a movie, a college thesis, a business plan or even a book it has the same two components: Message and Style. 

The message – or content – is by far the more important of the two. When a manager, a college admissions officer, a grader of college entrance essays or a potential employer or an actual employer reads a person’s written thoughts they are looking for Authenticity. If the message or idea is the result of disciplined thought, its authenticity will overcome most lapses in style. An elegant piece of prose, written with great style but without a thoughtful message will not overcome its inauthenticity. 

And it is hard work. “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” Doctor Samuel Johnson. And it begins with questions, leading to an authentic message. 

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Excerpted from my book Hybrid Learning.