Jump to content

We are "Writers"

Recommended Posts

Recently, I've had to review some inspection reports resulting in the following thoughts, which may help new inspectors avoid bad habits and seasoned inspectors to reform.

Of course, this is my own opinion, but it is shared by many educators regarding effective business writing - Fred Pryor Career Track Seminars, being one of them.

The greatest single pitfall and challenge of writing an impressive narrative style home inspection report is the avoidance of second person passive voice language, which tends to result in a meandering river of superfluous words.

If your writing is heavy laden with words like: have been; was; that; should be; etc., you're most likely wasting a lot of words along with your reader's valuable time and effort. Sifting through such vague language to extract the point is mentally exhausting!

Writing in first person active voice implied command has long been revered as the champion of effective business writing. It can reduce our words by 25% - 50% while forcing us to be crystal clear. It's not easy in the beginning, but the transition forces us to become very thoughtful and concise "writers" instead of cut-n-paste boilerplate quilters. And, in the end you will find it humorous to restructure a sentence and thereby remove 25% of the words without loosing any of the genuine content. It's sobering!

Boilerplate statements are typically full of this type of language. The CYA, no doubt, needs to be inserted, but consider re-writing it to be as easy to read and understand as possible.

We write to and for the reader and must make the reading of the report as effortless and productive as humanly possible. This aim will give birth to a true "writer".

We want our readers to finish the report saying to them self "Wow!" rather than "Whew!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I write my Summary Action Items so clearly they can literally be cut/pasted right onto the Request for Repairs Addendum to the Contract to Purchase, which is great insurance that what you wrote, on behalf of your client, is precisely what gets asked for.

Some agents actually do cut and paste it and I'm perfectly fine with that. Sometimes I'm amazed by how poorly agents ask for repairs, if they author their own request. I'm sure we've all seen some whoppers fall through the cracks that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I was cadre at the MP School at Ft. McClellen in the mid-1980's and attending ANCOC (Advanced Non-Commissioned Officers Training) when the Army began the arduous task of trying to re-train all NCO's and Officers to convert from passive writing habits to active writing habits. It was a battle royal and it had to be repeated with every single new NCO and Officer. It still must today because even our high schools are still teaching students to write passively.

Here are a few references that might help. Yeah, I know, nobody wants to read a military text but these are really quite good and shouldn't be ignored simply because they are military texts; after all, the military uses our tax dollars to hire the best folks in the business to write their materials for them.


http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc ... tyleguides





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the input, Mike!

Even technical stuff can be written without passive voice. Use words like: is; are, did, did not, will not, constists; remains; retains; shakes; vibrates; leaks; leaking; fails to; etc.

Make informing merely a component of directing.

Enduring a rambling report is painful!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A professional that does a lot of business writing will not be favorably impressed with the even outstanding information if he gets hung up on a weak presention.

I must be a sand box drop out because I can't make head or tail out of the above mentioned quote. Of course, I don't mean to doubt your abilities as an inspector.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good call, Marc. The sentence is poorly worded - composed out in the field. I removed it, but my point is that a professional, as in a big corporate CEO that does a lot of business writing, could get side-tracked and annoyed in dealing with a report that is poorly written.

The reports that I've recently had to read and follow behind were good thorough inspections by reputable inspectors, but the reports were just entirely too wordy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually thought your original comment was funny, accurate and right on time - great comic relief.

When I first read it, after a brief pause, I smiled thinking to myself, "Touche, Bob!" Loved it.

Regarding genuine wit and intellectual humor, don't hold back on my account. Tee it up! [:-party]

PS. I'm 58, so there!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...