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Write effectively – a quick course for busy health workers

A book for doctors who are newcomers to the world of writing, on how to avoid losing sense in a sea of jargon

A book for doctors who are newcomers to the world of writing, on how to avoid losing sense in a sea of jargon

This is a good book for reluctant writers – for those who think they would like to write but never find the time and those who have to write but don't know where to start.

Tim Albert writes from 16 years of experience and has run over 1,000 courses on writing and medical editing skills for health professionals. The book is short and in two parts.

The first part is the quick course, which is based on a small number of essential tasks to be followed in sequence, beginning with research and followed by the formulation of a single key message and the drafting of a spidergram.

At this stage, you then put away your reference material and force yourself to write!

Once you have put something on paper, you then revise and improve it and in the second half of the book there are a number of tips on grammar, design and choice of words which will be useful for new and experienced writers alike.

This therefore is a book for anyone who hates or fears writing, but also for those who enjoy the challenge of conveying their message effectively to their chosen reader.

It is a book with two potential audiences, but written very much with the new writer in mind, and so I did wonder if I would learn anything from it.

Fortunately, I did – firstly the concept of the spidergram (which formalises a process that I think I was pretty much following already) and then the details of the Gunning Fog test – a calculation based on sentence and word length which enables the writer to quantify the complexity of a piece of writing and so match it to the expectation of his intended reader – from airport novel to obscure journal.

This review has been written using Albert's method and has a Gunning Fog score of 11.6 - that of a tabloid newspaper. As Wittgenstein said: 'What can be said at all can be said clearly.'

Dr James Heathcote

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