SONY Part 1

SONY Part 1

When we write, we must be organized so our readers can understand us easily.


We first must take our audience into account. The following are audiences we usually should not write for:

    • Our teacher
    • Our parents
    • Our classmates
    • Our friends

We could communicate with those people by using methods that are much more effective than writing. For example, we can communicate with our friends by talking to them in person, by telephoning them, or by texting them.


Unless you are told otherwise, always assume you are writing for adults. You should train for when writing will be very important. That’s when you are an adult, if you’re not one already.

Adult Strangers

The adults should be strangers to you. If they are people you know, then assume they are strangers. That way, you will be more complete in what you have to say.

What All Adults Have in Common

Almost all adults have one thing in common: They are busy.

Since they are busy, they do not want to read about what they already know a lot about. It’s a waste of their valuable time. 

An Example

Let’s say you were asked, If you could be any wild animal, what would you be? Perhaps you answered like this:

If I were any wild animal, I would be a(n) ….

Grizzly bear
Panda bear
Polar bear

Which one is best to write about?

The answer? None of them.

You are writing for an adult stranger. You can assume that nearly all adults already know quite a lot about most animals named above. Sure, you might tell the reader something new, but for most people, reading about those animals would be a waste of time. And time is precious.

A Good Subject

Always select a subject that you feel the audience—

  • Knows little about


  • Will find interesting

Another Example

Here are some subjects that readers are likely to know little about and that are likely to be interesting:

But What Is Interesting?

How do you know what the audience (a) will know little about and (b) will find interesting?

You don’t know. Not for certain, anyway.

The answer, though, goes way back to the Ancient Greeks. They said it’s all based on common sense.  For example, which is the audience less likely to know much about?

    • A lion
    • An ice worm

It’s an obvious answer. But are ice worms interesting?

They live inside glaciers. In the ice. And scientists don’t know exactly how they do it.

Will all potential readers find that to be interesting? No. But common sense tells us that most readers probably will. And so it’s a good subject. 

Small Group Activity

Make a list of pets you feel readers would not know much about.

Writing About What We Find Interesting

Students often mistake subjects that they find interesting for what audiences find interesting. For example, perhaps you listed, “my dog, Spot” as a pet that readers would not know much about. It is true that adult readers probably do not know anything about Spot, but it is also true that they are unlikely to care about Spot. They have pets of their own. Spot is a dog. And you know that readers already know about dogs, even though they do not know about your particular dog. 

Small Group Activity

Delete any types of pets from your list that readers are already likely to know about.


Communication involves a relationship. It is like a relationship between a wife and husband or girlfriend and boyfriend. For example, “I would be an aye-aye lemur” involves two ideas and one relationship:

    • Idea 1:   I
    • Idea 2:   Aye-aye lemur


Now let’s stop using idea and start using variable. If we have a barbell and we change the weight, we vary them. GILBERT, INCLUDE A PIC OF A WEIGHT LIFTER CHANGING A WEIGHT

We now have:

    • Variable 1:           I
    • Variable 2:           Aye-aye lemur

Individual or Small Group Activity

For reasons we will explore in the next lesson, most good pieces of writing involve two main variables. Not three. Not one.  Two.

Read these essays and determine the two main variables in each one:     Barbados

                                                                                                                          St. Lucia

Optional Activity