1.2. WHO IS MY AUDIENCE?
3
must conside r hi s convenience , an d hi s understanding—no t you r own .
In the Sputni k era , som e years ago, when mathematics department s
and journal s wer e growin g explosivel y an d everyon e wa s i n a rus h t o
publish, i t wa s commo n t o begi n a pape r b y writin g "Notatio n i s a s
in m y las t paper. " Today , b y contrast , ther e ar e trul y gifte d mathe -
maticians wh o writ e paper s tha t loo k lik e a lette r hom e t o Mom : the y
just star t t o write, occasionally starting a new paragraph whe n the tex t
spills ove r ont o a ne w page , neve r formall y statin g a theore m o r eve n
a definition , neve r comin g t o an y particula r point . Th e content s ar e
divine, i f onl y th e reade r ca n scre w u p th e courag e t o pr y the m loose .
These las t tw o ar e no t th e sort s o f paper s tha t yo u woul d wan t t o
read, s o why tormen t you r reader s lik e this? Muc h o f th e remainde r o f
this boo k wil l discuss ways to writ e your work s o that peopl e will wan t
to rea d it , an d wil l enjo y i t whe n the y do .
1.2 Wh o I s M y Audience ?
If you ar e writing a diary, then i t ma y be safe t o sa y that you r audienc e
is jus t yourself . (Truthfully , eve n thi s ma y no t b e accurate , fo r yo u
may hav e i t i n th e bac k o f you r min d that—lik e Ann e Frank' s diary ,
or Samue l Pepys' s diary—thi s piec e o f writin g i s somethin g fo r th e
ages.) I f yo u ar e writin g a lette r hom e t o Mom , the n you r audienc e i s
Mom and , o n a goo d day , perhap s Pop . I f yo u ar e writin g a calculu s
exam, the n you r audienc e consist s o f your students , an d perhap s som e
of you r colleague s (o r you r chairman , i f th e chai r i s i n th e habi t o f
reviewing you r teaching) . I f yo u ar e writin g a trac t o n handle-bod y
theory, the n you r audienc e i s probabl y a well-define d grou p o f fello w
mathematicians. Kno w you r audience !
Keep in mind a specific person—somebody actuall y in your acquaint -
ance—to who m yo u migh t b e writing . I f you ar e writin g t o yoursel f o r
to Mom , thi s is easy. I f you are instead writing to your peer s in handle-
body theory , the n thin k o f someon e i n particular—someon e t o who m
you could b e explaining your ideas. Thi s technique i s more than a facil e
artifice; i t help s you t o pictur e wha t question s migh t b e asked , o r wha t
confusions migh t arise , or which detail s you migh t nee d t o tro t ou t an d
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