by Jennie Ruby
Take this problem sentence: It is [I, me] who [demand/demands] a change in the rules.
The correct grammar is this: It is I who demand a change in the rules.
However, the correct grammar here sounds unfamiliar or wrong to readers used to seeing who with demands, not demand. Recast the sentence so that it is correct but not awkward:
Recast sentence: I am the one who demands a change in the rules.
You can restructure or recast a sentence to put information in the order the reader needs it:
Original: Click the Chart tool from the Illustrations group on the Insert tab.
Your reader cannot see the Chart tool until the Insert tab is selected. The following recast sentence gives the information in a more usable order.
Recast: From the Insert tab, Illustrations group, click the Chart tool.
To introduce a new concept, you may recast a sentence to place the new concept at the end, so the reader is led from the familiar to the new and thus understands the importance of the new information by the time it is encountered.
The original sentence starts with an unfamiliar technical term, leaving the reader at first wondering why she or he cares. The fact that the code is required is buried in the middle of the sentence, and the familiar thing this all relates to does not pop up until the end. Assuming your reader is familiar with and has created some Spry widgets, the recast sentence begins with the known and introduces the new concept at the end.
Don't be afraid to recast a sentence several times before deciding which structure catches the reader's needs the best, and don't let your reader be the one who gets away.
Are you an eLearning developer who has been tasked with creating an effective voiceover script? I'm teaching a 3-hour, online class later this week called Writing Effective eLearning Voiceover Scripts. During the class I'll be teaching you how to define the appropriate voice and tone for a narrative text. You will learn how to take specific steps to create the engaging and personable writing style that voice-over narratives require. I hope you can join me. Click here to learn more.