When we write about a person, or even when we simply need to mention someone in our writing, we always need to keep our 'audience’ in mind. As mentioned in the post, First Things First, it is useful to imagine a particular person as part of the audience. A real person can be thought of or a completely made up person. They just need to represent the actual people we hope to educated or inform. Once you have your audience in mind, ask yourself, honestly, if they are familiar with the person you are going to mention, quote or write about.
Some iconic personalities need little or no introduction. Think of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela, for instance. They are well known in many parts of the world. If you can safely assume that your readers are well acquainted with the person in question, you can certainly skip an introduction, just as you would skip introductions at a small meeting or social occasion where everyone knew each other. However, in certain circles or for certain audiences, there may be some people who might not be familiar with, say, Martin Luther King, for instance.
For a commonly known person, where only a few readers may need an introduction, simply hyperlinking a web site or a previous blog post to their name is sufficient, i.e.: Martin Luther King Jr.. On the other hand, if the person is less well known, a more proper introduction may be in order. For example, Rashid Kahlidi, editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, and past President of the Middle East StudiesAssociation, is the author of numerous books on Palestine and the Middle East. In his controversial title, The Iron Cage, he states that . . .
Having amply introduced Rashid Kahlidi, including hyperlinks to information that will help readers place him in context to the issues, and having identified where the information that is to be quoted or paraphrased originated, we are ready to move ahead with our essay.
Using and fact checking quotes, and developing credibility will be covered in up-coming posts!
Our steps are getting a little more complicated:
1. Imagine your audience.
2. Ask yourself what they need to know first.
3. Draft your post, putting first things first.
4. Make certain that you have adequately introduced the people you are quoting, paraphrasing, or discussing, and that you have included appropriate hyperlinks.
5. Seek constructive criticism, from someone who either is a member of your audience, or who understands them.
6. Rewrite as necessary.
7. Repeat steps five and six until you get it dialed in.
8. Stay tuned. More tips are forthcoming.
Questions and constructive criticism welcome!