Letter of Compliment Assignment: Drafting Form

Step 2 of Guffey’s 3 x 3 Writing Process




Use the following three (3) steps in the Drafting process, and each step’s related questions, to help you fill in the compliment situation details on your graphic organizer/mental map/outline. The three steps will help you think about:

  1. Step 1: Research you need to do to help the reader understand your letter’s purpose
  2. Step 2: Organize (group your ideas) to show relationships among them
  3. Step 3: Compose (write/create) your first draft



  1. Gather Information Through Research (p. 151)
  • Before collecting data, ask these questions:
  • What does the receiver need to know about this topic?
  • What is the receiver to do?
  • How is the receiver to do it?
  • When must the receiver do it?
  • What will happen if the receiver doesn’t do it?


  • Decide which type of research methods you need to collect your data:
  1. Formal Research Methods
  • Access electronically (Internet, databases, CD, DVDs)
  • Search manually (books, magazines, journals)
  • Go to the source (consumers)
  • Investigate primary sources (interviews, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups)
  • Conduct scientific experiments (measure variables using control groups)


  1. Informal Research Methods
  • Look in the organization’s files
  • Talk with your boss
  • Interview the target audience
  • Conduct an informal survey


  • Note: Collecting Information and Generating Ideas by Brainstorming (Self or in a Group)
  • Establish time limits – short sessions/meetings are best
  • Set a quota – such as a minimum of 100 ideas for the group
  • Require every participant to contribute ideas – accept ideas of others or improve on ideas
  • Encourage wild, “out of the box” thinking – don’t allow people to criticize or evaluate ideas
  • Write ideas on flipcharts or on sheets of paper hung around the room, so people can see the ideas
  • Organize and classify the ideas, retaining the best – consider using cluster diagrams that capture ideas generated during a brainstorming session
  • Similar ideas are grouped together and sequenced to form sub-clusters





  1. Organize Your Ideas (p. 155)
  • Writers of well-organized messages group similar ideas together, so readers can see relationships and follow arguments
  1. Use Lists and Outlines
    • Scratch list—a quick list of topics to cover
    • Outline—ideas organized into a hierarchy using the alphanumeric or decimal system


  1. Organize Ideas Into Patterns
  • Business messages follow either:
    • Direct pattern, with the main idea first
    • Indirect pattern, with the main idea following explanation and evidence


  • Audience response determines pattern of organization
    1. Direct pattern for receptive audiences
  • Place main idea in the first or second sentence of your message followed by details and explanations
  • Saves the reader’s time
  • Sets a proper frame of mind
  • Prevents frustration


  1. Indirect Pattern for Unreceptive Audiences
  • Explanation precedes main idea
  • Respects the feelings of the audience
  • Facilitates a fair hearing
  • Minimizes a negative reaction


III. Compose the First Draft with Effective Sentences (p. 159)

  1. Recognize Basic Sentence Elements
  • Complete sentences must have subjects and verbs and must make sense
  • Clauses have subjects and verbs, but phrases do not
  • Independent clauses may stand alone; dependent clauses cannot stand alone


  1. Avoid Three Common Sentence Errors
  • Fragment – a broken-off part of a complex sentence
  • Run-on (Fused) sentence – a sentence containing two independent clauses without a conjunction or a semicolon
  • Comma-splice sentence – two independent clauses joined by a comma
  1. Use Short Sentences
  • Strive for sentences that average 20 words
  • Reader comprehension drops as sentences become longer
  1. Emphasize Important Ideas
  • Use vivid, descriptive words
  • Label the main idea
  • Place the important idea first or last in the sentence
  • Place the important idea in a simple sentence or in an independent clause
  • Make sure the important idea is the sentence subject


  1. Manage Active and Passive Voice

Active voice:  subject is the doer of the action

Example:  Staples shipped our order for office supplies today.


Passive voice:  subject is acted upon

Example:  The office supplies were shipped by Staples today.


  • Use the active voice for most business writing
  • Use the passive voice to emphasize an action or the recipient of the action
  • Use the passive voice to de-emphasize negative news
  • Use the passive voice to conceal the doer of an action


  1. Compose the First Draft Using Powerful Paragraphs (p. 165)
  • A paragraph is a group of sentences that discuss only one (1) idea/topic


  1. Basic Paragraph Elements
    • May be composed of three different types of sentences: main, supporting, and limiting
    • May be organized into three plans: direct, pivoting, and indirect


  1. Use the Direct Paragraph Plan to Define, Classify, Illustrate, or Describe
  • Most business messages use this plan because it clarifies the subject immediately


  1. Use the Pivoting Paragraph Plan to Compare and Contrast
  • Is useful in comparing and contrasting ideas
  • Notify the reader about a turn in direction of thought by using but or however


  1. Use the Indirect Paragraph Plan to Explain and Persuade
  • Is appropriate for delivering bad news
  • Starts with the supporting sentences and concludes with the main sentence
  1. Building Paragraph Coherence
  2. Sustaining the key idea (repeating a key expression or using a similar one)
  3. Using pronouns (using familiar pronouns such as this, that, these, and those)
  4. Dovetailing sentences (linking the idea at the end of one sentence to an idea at the beginning of the next)
  5. Showing connections with transitional expressions (using verbal road signs to help the receiver anticipate what’s coming, reduce uncertainty, and speed up comprehension)
  6. Compose Short Paragraphs for Readability and Comprehension
  • Short paragraphs are more attractive and readable than longer ones
  • Paragraphs with eight (8) or fewer lines look inviting
  1. Checklist for Composing Sentences and Paragraphs

For Effective Sentences

  • Avoid common sentence faults.
  • Control sentence length.
  • Emphasize important ideas.
    • Apply active- and passive-voice

verbs carefully.

  • Eliminate misplaced modifiers.



For Meaningful Paragraphs

  • Develop one idea.
  • Use the direct plan.
  • Use the pivoting plan.
  • Use the indirect plan.
  • Build coherence with linking techniques.
  • Provide road signs with transitions.
  • Limit paragraph length.