Write Better Proposals by Studying the Craft

Writing good proposals is difficult because writing well is difficult. Unfortunately, too many of us have trouble writing really good proposals because there are many constraints in our jobs and in our lives to writing well.

The best way to improve your ability to write good proposals is to write and be thoughtfully critiqued. The second best way is to study the craft by reading good books on the subject and learning from good examples.

Fortunately, there are many great books that can teach and inspire us to become better proposal writers. Below is my eclectic list of good books that can help all of us write better prose in our proposals.

William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing (1976). A classic in the field, this is essential reading for anyone who writes frequently for a living.

Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing (1973). Bradbury, a well-known writer of science fiction, distils practical advice about how to write effectively, and with passion.

Verlyn Klinkenborg, Several Short Sentences about Writing (2013). This is an interesting and unorthodox approach that describes how writing really occurs.

William Strunk and E. B. White, The Elements of Style: The Classic Writing Style Guide (2016). Time magazine listed this book as one of the hundred best and most influential books written in English since 1923. White was a brilliant writer for the New Yorker and a notable author of children’s books.

And what is good writing? Let Zinsser define it. “All your clear and pleasing sentences will fall apart if you don’t keep remembering that writing is linear and sequential, that logic is the glue that holds it together, that tension must be maintained from one sentence to the next and from one paragraph to the next and from one section to the next, and that narrative – good old-fashioned storytelling – is what should pull your readers along without their noticing the tug.”


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