This Life Member of MOAA Can Sharpen Your Professional Writing Skills

This Life Member of MOAA Can Sharpen Your Professional Writing Skills
Col. Carla Bass, USAF (Ret), will host an upcoming MOAA webinar offering guidance to improve your professional writing skills. (Courtesy photo)

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Join MOAA on Feb. 17 from 2-3 p.m. Eastern for a webinar featuring Col. Carla Bass, USAF (Ret), author of Write to Influence! 


Want to nail that dream job, score a promotion, make a sale, or win a grant? To influence the decision in your favor, you must frame a winning argument. Bass, a multiple award-winning author and consultant, will teach you how to make each second of the reader’s time play to your advantage and compose items that deliver the desired result.


As a preview to the workshop, Bass highlights three strategies: 1) maximize the reader’s time and available space to make your case, 2) compose from the audience’s perspective -- empathize with them, and 3) include detail to set the context for your message.


“Powerful writing often tips the balance between success and failure. I teach people how to tip it in their favor,” said Bass. 

[REGISTER TODAY: Seize Your Future: Write to Influence!


For 25 years, Bass taught scores of workshops to military and civilian audiences, empowering individuals to leverage the power their own words. This skill was integral to her career success. As an Air Force first lieutenant, she wrote and presented daily briefings to the Director of the National Security Agency. 


“I learned in that job, seconds matter and words count. There was high pressure, high visibility, and zero margin for error,” said Bass.


As a division chief at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon, the staff she submitted for quarterly and annual awards frequently won, earning Bass the moniker, “the Major with the Silver Pen.” This inspired her battle cry, “Powerful writing changes lives!”


As commander of the 324th Intelligence Squadron in Hawaii, she transformed her 480-person unit from the most losing in statewide quarterly and annual awards into “the one to beat.” How? She taught her troops to compose winning nominations. So popular was her workshop, she taught it for the next 15 years to thousands of Air Force members.


Bass’ book and workshops benefit local government and private sectors, as well. For example: the volunteer fire and rescue department in Orlean, Va. won a $60,000 grant using her writing techniques, according to her website. 




In addition to conducting workshops, Bass has been a frequent guest on television and podcasts. She also recently created an online video course, “Catapult Your Career – Write to Influence!” scheduled to go on sale early this spring. 


“I’m thrilled with this new product! It applies my methodology to résumés, cover letters, interviews, interview thank-you notes, input to performance reviews, composing effective email to facilitate job-related success, and tips to excel in your job,” said Bass. “The course lasts about three hours and contains seven modules, which people can access as time permits.” 


“The beauty about my methodology is this … learn it once, apply it often. Writing powerfully pays life-long dividends!”


Join Bass as she shares her insights during the Feb. 17 webinar (Learn More | Register Now).


She became a Life Member of MOAA in 2017. I appreciate MOAA’s proactive support of the military, philosophically and practically,” said Bass, the daughter of a retired Air Force colonel. “In addition to the benefits MOAA affords all its members, I’ve been enjoyed several opportunities to help fellow members by composing articles published in MOAA’s prestigious magazine, Military Officer.” 


4 Tips Toward Better Writing 

Bass offered these four quick tips to make your writing more “influential,” with more to come during the Feb. 17 webinar: 

  1. Don’t use words that hog space. Use active instead of passive voice, employ shorter vs longer words, and condense several words into one, e.g., replace “on a daily basis” with “daily.” Collectively, these net more space to make that compelling case.
  2. Verbs are your friends, rely on them. Using an egg analogy, the yoke is the verb, and the egg white is the “bureaucratic blather,” Bass said. Instead of saying “provide warning” or “may be beneficial,” say “warn” or “may benefit.” 

  3. Retain the focus – shut the gates. Don’t inadvertently prompt questions; this causes the reader to stray from your intended message. If you state, “We improved production by 10 percent,” the reader wonders, “Is that significant?” This flawed item from a résumé, “Provided six recommendations to the CEO,” tells a partial story. It begs the questions, “Did the CEO accept them?” and “What happened as a result?” 

  4. Revise, edit, and proofread. Each is a distinct step. Each is critical. Revising a document involves a substantive review. Is the material properly sequenced? Did you address intended points? Are they sufficiently fortified? Does the information advance your argument? Editing addresses items such as proper format and length, sentence structure, and overuse or misuse of words. Finally, proofreading is the final polish – look for typos, grammatical mistakes, etc. 


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About the Author

Kipp Hanley
Kipp Hanley

Hanley is a former staff writer at MOAA.