Writing isn’t brain surgery, which is good because if it were, I’d have bodies strewn all over the place.
However, many who are quite adept at brain surgery—and other highly skilled professions—can’t write a lick.
Effective writing requires us to jettison some notions that may apply in other fields, but certainly don’t work when we’re trying to communicate with words. In many things we do, we try to impress people by being fancy and showing off what we’re capable of. It’s the opposite in writing, you don’t want people to notice the writing.
I’m talking about good, practical writing. These are tips for writing a blog or for writing websites. If you want creative writing tips, go somewhere else. If you want sound blog writing tips, I’m your guy.
Don’t use 10 words when four is enough. I just finished rewriting and paring down a 4,000-word academic paper into two 1,000-word blogs. The prof’s paper was great, but far too wordy. Here are some phrases in the original that illustrate the point:
- “It is vital that owners know how….” How about, “Owners must know how…”?
- “… regulations are increasingly more prevalent.” Don’t the words “increasingly” and “more” mean much the same thing? Always look for phrases contributed by the Redundancy Department of Redundancy.
Don’t use 10 words when none is enough. If you find yourself using the phrase, “In other words,” ask yourself why you have to explain something again. Did you do a poor job the first time? If the second explanation is better, cut the first.
Write in declarative sentences. Tom ate the cat is declarative. The cat was eaten by Tom is the passive voice. Learn the difference and stick with the declarative.
When in doubt put in a period and start a new sentence. Don’t “write yourself into a corner.” Shorter sentences have a much higher probability of being grammatically correct.
Write it and then take out a bunch of what you wrote. Be ruthless in your editing. I guarantee you nobody will ask, “Hey, what used to be between these two paragraphs?”
Write like you talk except use proper grammar. Our slurred and inexact speech causes us to say things like, “I would of gone,” when we mean, “I would have gone.” Any good collection of tips on writing a blog will tell you to keep it conversational. Conversational tone, yes; conversational grammar, no.
Here I am at nearly 400 words and I have a lot more tips. I’m going to make this part one of a series. Of course, if you need editing help or a ghostwriter who can pretty much follow these rules, contact me.