Blog News The rhetorica® II writing system, 15 steps to mastery

The rhetorica® II writing system, 15 steps to mastery

rhetorica® II writing system
Scott Keyser Oct 15, 2020 News

Why writing matters, and always will

More than any human invention, writing shapes our world. Finding a vaccine for COVID-19 or reversing climate change would be unthinkable without the written word.


Sharing our ideas, thoughts and emotions with others also benefits our self-esteem, physical and mental health, longevity, social mobility, career progression and civic participation. Good writing improves life chances. It’s also good business.


In the last 20 years, numerous studies[1] into adult literacy have confirmed the link with employees earning more, finding full-time work and greater job mobility.


For employers, high literacy skills in their workforce equate to time and money saved, better work, higher productivity and a stronger bottom-line.


Who is Scott Keyser, The Writing Guy, and what’s he done?

I’m a twice-published writer, writing skills trainer and bid consultant who helps professional services firms write Human and double their tender win-rate. My background includes:

  • Helping Ernst & Young double its tender win-rate
  • Taking an international consultancy’s tender win-rate from 14% to 71%
  • Delivering my signature 1-day rhetorica® writing workshop to 5000+ professionals, averaging delegate satisfaction of 93%
  • Training staff of The Economist and three ‘magic circle’ law firms in writing skills for a decade
  • Having two books publishedwinner takes all on how to double your tender win-rate, and rhetorica ® — a toolkit of 21 everyday writing techniques


The guiding principle of the rhetorica® II method: ‘Write for your Reader’

Many writers ‘we’ all over their reader, because they haven’t bothered to research them. Yet the shift from being writer-centric to reader-centric is less about intellect and more about emotional intelligence. It comes from genuinely wanting to connect with your reader.


Over 16 years of writing skills training I’ve developed a simple method called rhetorica®. Market response has proven that the ability to write well is neither an innate gift nor a black art, but a learnable skill, and the birth right of all.


From students, school leavers and job applicants to the incarcerated, the marginalised and the disadvantaged, I now want my rhetorica®  method to help millions around the world transform their writing.


The latest version of the method is called rhetorica® II, because it’s a slimmed-down version of the 21 writing techniques presented in my book rhetorica® — a toolkit of 21 everyday writing techniques.


rhetorica® II features only 15 techniques: four planning, eight drafting and three editing. Its guiding principle — reflecting the most common mistake in persuasive writing — is ‘Write for your Reader’.


4 planning techniques:

Technique #1: Set time aside to plan Poor or absent planning is common. People pay lip-service to the idea, but most plan badly, if at all. Learn how to plan like a pro.

Technique #2: Nail your purpose Writing that lacks purpose rambles, meanders and, ultimately, loses its reader. Use a simple acronym to nail your purpose or objective.

Technique #3: Clarify your message The best writers can express their over-arching message in one sentence — no matter how complex the topic. Learn how to do that.

Technique #4: Structure for impact Structure is more important than language. Through sub-headings, topic sentences and ‘layering’, plot a clear, navigable journey for your reader.


8 drafting techniques:

Technique #5: Grab attention The first thing we need to get from our reader. Learn how to craft arresting headlines and subject lines.

Technique #6: Tell a story Humans are wired for story; as an evolutionary invention, it rivals fire. Learn the four archetypal elements of any story, then write your own.

Technique #7: Write clearly Use middle-register plain English to write so clearly your reader ‘gets’ it in one go. They’ll come back for more.

Technique #8: Write concisely The only way to write concisely is to omit needless words. Search & destroy the redundant words and phrases that pepper your writing.

Technique #9: Write in the active voice The passive voice is the carbon monoxide of writing. Learn what the active voice is and why it should be your voice of choice.

Technique #10: Use more verbs than nouns Cure ‘nounitis’ — the over-use of nouns — by using more verbs. Words of action/doing invigorate (and shorten) our writing.

Technique #11: Add drama & emphasis Learn rhetorical devices for adding flair and drama, eg the two ‘hot spots’ of any sentence, paragraph or document; the law of three.

Technique #12: Write with personality Find your voice. When your writing sounds like you, it lands. Learn how to use a simple new technology to capture your writing voice.


3 editing techniques:

Technique #13: Shorten your sentences Long sentences strangle good writing. Raise your readability by lowering your ASL (Average Sentence Length) to 15 – 20 words.

Technique #14: Read out loud An elegantly simple and effective way of checking your work, employed by professional writers…but ignored by amateurs.

Technique #15: Score your readability Score your writing with the MS Word Readability Stats. You get instant, actionable feedback on the mechanics of your writing.


[1] Studies include the exhaustive 2000 OECD International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) ‘Literacy in the Information Age’, involving  20 countries representing over half the world’s entire GDP.


Check out a free taster module (one of nine) of Scott’s online programme, Write for Results Online:


Written by Scott Keyser. Scott is The Writing Guy, a twice-published bid writer, consultant and trainer. Scott’s books includewinner takes all on how to double your tender win-rate, and rhetorica® — a toolkit of 21 everyday writing techniques, both available on Amazon.


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Scott Keyser

Scott is The Writing Guy, a twice-published bid writer, consultant and trainer who helps professionals to write Human, connect with their reader and get the results they want from the words they write — like doubling their tender win-rate, which is what he did for Ernst & Young (now EY). His clients include The Economist Group, three ‘magic circle’ law firms and two of the Big Four accountancy firms. Over the last 16 years, Scott has refined a persuasive writing system called rhetorica® that makes clear, concise and compelling writing accessible to all. Scott’s books include: winner takes all on how to double your tender win-rate, and rhetorica ® — a toolkit of 21 everyday writing techniques, both available on Amazon.

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