As I was watching the ridiculous/addictive Real Housewives of Beverly Hills ladies learn self-defense this week, it occurred to me that writing should always pack a punch.
I found this wonderful article that lists seven ways to make your writing more powerful. (It specifically references blogs, but the information is valid for all types of writing.) If you’re a school nerd like me, you’ll dive in and read the whole thing, but if you want the Cliff’s Notes version, here are the highlights with some before-and-after examples. You'll notice that the "after" phrases make way more sense in fewer words.
1.Don’t Pad Your Prose with Empty Filler Words (Or: Avoid Using Grammar Expletives)
• It’s fun to edit – Editing is fun
• It takes time to write – Writing takes time
• There are many people who write – Many people write
2. Don’t Weaken the Action with Wimpy Words (Or: Avoid Weak Verbs)
• She is blogging – She blogs
• People are in love with him – People love him
3. Don’t Cripple Your Descriptions with Feeble Phrases (Or: Avoid Weak Adjectives)
• Very big – Huge
• Very beautiful – Gorgeous
4. Trim Flabby Words and Phrases (Or: Avoid Verbose Colloquialisms)
• You’re going to have to edit your work – You’ll have to edit your work or You must edit your work (Going to and going to have to are flabby expressions)
• Due to the fact that editing takes time, some people avoid it – Because editing takes time, some people avoid it
5. Don’t Pussyfoot Around Your Verbs and Adjectives (Or: Avoid Nominalization)
• The plane’s approach was met with the scramble of emergency crews – The plane approached and emergency crews scrambled (verb form)
• He shows signs of carelessness – He is careless (adjective form)
6. Throw Out the Rulebook on Punctuation (Or: Use the Occasional Comma for Clarity)
Use commas sparingly if you prefer, but if excluding a comma MAKES YOUR READER STOP READING, add another bleepin’ comma – regardless of what any comma police may say. Let’s look at another example that needs a comma for clarity:
One day, when you find success you can pull out your golden pen and write me a thank-you letter.
By not including a comma between success and you, I read this sentence and asked myself, “Is success something you can pull out of a golden pen?”
7. Be As Manipulative As Possible (Or: Use Noun Modifiers Whenever You Can)
• Tips on editing – Editing tips
• Information regarding registration – Registration information
These tips are not magical, mystical, or complicated. In fact, you could consider them downright boring, plain, and inconsequential. But applying smart editing rules is what separates your heroes from the masses, catapults them to success, and makes readers say, “I don’t know what it is about their writing, but it’s absolutely fantastic.”
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