RE: Proposals: Let's Get Cynical, Cynical, I wanna get Cynical...

Subject: RE: Proposals: Let's Get Cynical, Cynical, I wanna get Cynical...
From: "Tom Eagles" <dox -at- tekwriter -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 00:13:00 -0400

Karen, proposals, unlike manuals, do NOT have to follow the
active voice rule. In fact, it may sound stand-offish and
stifling in a proposal. JMHO, and speaking as someone who
has written a few successful proposals :--)

Abstract ideas are not a bad thing in a proposal, as long as
they are just an aside, kept brief, and don't distract from
THE message. You seem to have a good grasp of what proposal
writing really is all about: an exercise in rhetoric
followed by a section with numbers that will appeal to the
writer of the RFP (or whomever, if it's unsolicited). You
also have to have a good grasp of what that particular
proposal is about: that is far more important than active or
passive voice. Read the RFP inside out, and then again. If
there is one. If not, do your research WELL if it's

That said, anyone who tells you to make a proposal crystal
clear is asking you to lose out to someone else when the bid
is submitted. Erg, sorry, the cynical side of my personality
took over for a minute there. But seriously, I've done it
both ways: in cyrstal clear language, and then with
rhetorical, jargon-laden trash. Here's the verdict: the
latter wins more often. It just does. Sadly. You've gotta
know your jury and speak to them in their language. But hey,
lucky you if they're all English professors, or philosophy
buffs who enjoy a good minimalist debate, or Hemingway
clones, or... you get the idea. They ain't out there. Oh,
and as for the court room allusion: it's appropriate. I'd
worry more about covering every point in the RFP than
whether my voice is active or passive. But if you have time,
personalize it as much as possible.

A final bit of advice: don't throw out the baby with the
bath water. Maybe the stuff that was written before is so
bad that you SHOULD throw it all out. Fine. But give it a
good look and salvage some of it. If any of those proposals
were successful, look at why they succeeded rather than how
poorly they were written.


This should be an interesting thread.

Thomas Eagles
Ph/fax: 416.724.9450
email: dox -at- tekwriter -dot- com
1024-11753 Sheppard Avenue East
Toronto, Ontario Canada M1B 5M3

-----Original Message-----

Subject: Proposals as simple, easy-to-understand
From: Karen Field <kfield -at- STELLCOM -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 14:19:06 -0700

I've been asked to rewrite the basic proposal format for my
company. What a
mess! Passive voice everywhere, long, unwieldy sentences,
lots of abstract
ideas...If I rewrite in simple, clear, clean, prose, am I
violating some
invisible law that proposals must be complicated,
unattractive beasts for
potential clients to read? It sure seems that way.

I'd appreciate the support and encouragement of anyone who's
been in my

Previous by Author: RE: Who dreams up these things?
Next by Author: Size of Training Guides
Previous by Thread: RE: Text format of user inputs (paper manuals)
Next by Thread: TW jobs in Central NJ

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads