Reader-Based Prose Style is a style of writing that accounts for the emotions, knowledge, interests, and needs of the reader as opposed to the writer. Unlike writer-based prose, which is self-centered, reader-based prose is reader centered.
Texts classified as reader-based prose use
- the genres, methodologies, methods, and media necessary to reach and engage the target audience
- the theses and organizational patterns readers need to interpret and understand the writer’s messages and information
- the diction appropriate for the audience and occasion
- quotes, paraphrases, summaries and citations in ways that support the writer’s purpose and clarify the clarify the ebb and flow of scholarly conversations.
Key Words: Sweet Language
The term reader-based prose was coined by Linda Flower (1979):
[A Reader-Based Prose Style] “creates a shared language and shared context between writer and reader. It also offers the reader an issue-centered rhetorical structure rather than a replay of the writer’s discovery process. In its language and structure, Reader-Based prose reflects the purpose of the writer’s thought; Writer-Based prose tends to reflect its process. Good writing, therefore, is often the cognitively demanding transformation of the natural but private expressions of Writer-Based thought into a structure and style adapted to a readerLinda Flower, p. 20
At its most extreme, Reader-Based Prose Style is the language of sales, advertisements and political persuasion. Walker Gipson calls this sweet language because it amplifies the point of view of the receiver. Nothing, it seems, is quite so sweet as hearing our name or having our ideas approved and amplified.
Audience is the heartbeat of writing. If your text doesn’t appeal to your audience, then all is lost.