Breath of Clarity

The Genre Switching Activity- Understanding the Audience

Considering audience, purpose, and genre enhances my ability to write effectively because it supports me in achieving my primary goal of transmitting information in a given context. I can take the same information and present it appropriately by analyzing and making decisions based upon the conventions of the given situation. Embedded in the conventions are expectations containing agreed upon rules that shape my writing. The purpose is based upon the given context as it is formed by the circumstances that generated a need for the writing. Additionally, understanding which genre is appropriate to a particular situation gives me the ability to participate in that situation.That said, no matter how polished or sophisticated the writing, I do not thoroughly understand the context, the writing is not going to be well developed.

Scenario #1

Dear State Farm Claims Department,

I am reporting a car accident that occurred on Tuesday January 4th at 2:24pm at the intersection of Morris Street and Brevard Road in Asheville, North Carolina. I was driving my partner Fred Scofield’s 2015 Subaru Forester. The vin number for the car is 0592K4202956. His policy number is GHTKYH923840. My driver’s license number is 000049747471. No one was hurt in the accident. Both Fred’s car and the other car involved have significant damage. Currently, they are both being towed to the mechanic. I will notify you as soon as I get quotes from the mechanic regarding the cost of damages to both cars. Please confirm that you received this email and let me know the typical protocol in regards to the next steps.



Scenario #2

Hi Stephanie,

I deeply apologize for letting our team down by missing the presentation at work. I was in a car accident on the way to the meeting. No one was injured. However, all of the materials for the presentation are in the car that is being towed to the mechanic. I would be honored to have another chance to give the presentation. If you’re open to it, please let me know another day and time that goes well with your schedule.

Thank you for your patience,


Scenario #3

Hey, I was in a car accident today on my way to work in your Subaru… Thank god I’m not injured and neither is the guy in the other car. Stilllll, the accident is my fault because I was checking my phone while driving. I already emailed State Farm. The mechanic is about to give me quotes for the damage. I am so sorry. I know you enjoy driving that car so much and I am so frustrated with myself that I couldn’t just wait until later to check my phone. Again, I am so sorry for creating this chaos. Love you

Comment by Danette Jewell:

Hi Mary,

I thought you did a great job with your post and changing the way you communicated the information based on the audience. The work scenario was interesting to me because so many work environments have different levels of professionalism. I work at an environmental education camp which is pretty remote and a lot of our staff live onsite. As a result, we are often less formal with each other because coworkers are also neighbors and family members. I’ve definitely worked in environments where the tone remained really formal between employees though. Unlike the 1st and 3rd scenarios, the 2nd scenario could vary greatly in tone and professionalism depending on the work environment.

I also thought you did a great job with including detail for the insurance company. I used to live in Asheville and also drive a 205 Subaru Forester so it was easy to connect to your secario!

Comment by Alissa Young:

Hi Mary,

I can tell the kind of relationship you have with the person you are communicating with through your different writing styles. You effectively change tone, vocabulary and information accordingly for who you are communicating with. The communication in scenario 1 was concise and provided the information required to file a claim. I chose to write a more detailed letter with other contact information if they had follow-up questions. Since you did an email it allows for a more direct line of communication for follow-up questions. You could provide photos of the vehicles and information about the other vehicle involved to the first scenario. With scenario 2 I would rearrange your first and second sentences because you apologize first for missing the meeting before explaining why.

All the best,