As grantmakers become more isolated from most grantseekers, and most grantseekers become less visible to grantmakers, the art of writing becomes more and more critical to relationship-building success. There are a thousand good articles on good grant writing. Joachim Kreuger, a social psychologist from Brown University, offers these universal writing good elements:
Relevance: A good text conveys the information that matters, although a few exceptions can spice things up without much distraction.
Economy: Wordiness debases writing by diluting it. I began this post with the sentence “Good writing is hard,” when I could have written, “It has long been recognized that writers must overcome many difficult challenges before they can deliver an appealing and comprehensible body of text.” Look out for boilerplate and run-on sentences! Even if a sentence is sound, most adverbs and adjectives can be stricken without loss of information. Strong action verbs communicate better than noun-heavy phrases.
Vividness: Good writing evokes images in the reader’s mind. It is perceptual and hallucinatory. A poor text allows readers to hear the words in their minds without evoking images. Again, action verbs help.
Coherence: The text must hang together, tell a story, and follow a narrative arc. Lists don’t do this, and this post is playing with fire. Each part of the text has its own mission. Section headers can help, but an elegant text won’t always need them. When the writing is good, readers know where they are in the story.
Humor: A good text is entertaining, and humor is a spice that keeps boredom at bay. Good humor is subtle and not thigh-slapping. Good humor lets the reader in on a joke without being condescending or obscure.