Effective writing course: "POWER WRITING"
Here are some tips for
turning uninspiring, ineffective copy into high-impact writing:
Pursue the right word, this task should never lead to pretension or hairsplitting: shun arcane words, do not use words merely to flaunt your vocabulary, avoid distinctions where no difference exists, and above all don't use any word unless you know its meaning. When in doubt, check the dictionary.
Language has a shelf life. Clichés and other commonly used expressions make writing seem stale, and they convey the impression that you're incapable of thinking for yourself. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Clear, effective business writing not only reads well, its also good for ones business and career. One of the master keys to success in any line of work or in ones personal life, is the ability to convey your ideas effectively to others. You may have the greatest idea in the history of modern thought but what good is it if you cannot release it from the confines of your own mind.
Keep sentences short. Try not to exceed 15 words per sentence. This is a
great rule - to help avoid major sentence structure problems.
Some sentences can be longer, but less is usually more.
Create a poetic beat with your writing it will help to hold a
readers interest! Some say that this advice is a false
myth. It may be in okay to keep rambling on in a speech. In
written work shorter and quicker to the point is more effective. Use
short snappy sentences. The average reader can only take in so many words
before his or her eyes come to a brief rest at a period. If a
sentence has too many words, the chances are the full meaning will be
missed. Studies show that sentences of 20 words or less are easiest
to read and absorb. It is usually quite clear to see where one idea
leaves off and another begins.
Some say that this advice is a false myth. It may be in okay to keep rambling on in a speech. In written work shorter and quicker to the point is more effective. Use short snappy sentences. The average reader can only take in so many words before his or her eyes come to a brief rest at a period. If a sentence has too many words, the chances are the full meaning will be missed. Studies show that sentences of 20 words or less are easiest to read and absorb. It is usually quite clear to see where one idea leaves off and another begins.
Limit your sentence to one thought or idea. Your objective is to get the idea across to the reader, not to create underlying prose. It is also helpful to use short words. Of course, the use of technical language in reports is another story.
Vary sentence structure. Be aware of how each sentence starts.
Avoid starting with articles such as "the."
Begin with adverbs, adjectives or nouns to keep the reader from
Use active voice. Use "
developed the product" instead of the passive "The product was
. . This
will create a stronger more confident tone.
Use personal pronouns. For effective communication , write the way you speak. When speaking we use I, You, and we all the time. they're part of the normal give and take of a conversation. Whenever we write for a business we tend to cling desperately to the passive voice. Rarely do we say we, never say I and even avoid the straight forward you. Instead we use a phrase such as "It is assumed...." or "It is recommended...." Why not state the message clearly and quickly with "We are looking into this and get back to you shortly."? Don't fear being direct or strong.
Don't be afraid to use contractions. Contractions are a normal part of our speech. We rarely use full phrases such as "I do not want this" or " I will not be able to go" We say "I don't" or "I won't" Why not use these commonly used contractions in our writing? It makes your letter come across in a sincere and personal manner. Naturally avoid slangy contractions like "ain't." You shouldn't use such language when speaking either.
Use direct questions. A conversation is not one sided. One one person speaks, the other interrupts, often with a question. By interjecting questions in your letter, you gain the attention of your reader to specific points. After making a point you might ask: "What additional information do you need?" This gives the reader an additional chance to reflect on the message in relationship to his specific needs.
Choose action verbs. Employ verbs
that describe physical or mental activities instead of a state of being.
services outshine the competition", instead of "
services are the best".
Use modifiers sparingly. Choose nouns and verbs that are as specific as
possible, and employ adverbs and adjectives sparingly.
Write with direct references!
Put your copy on a diet. Write
unnecessary words and phrases.
following tips will improve the overall aspect of your writing:
Set the length. Determine how long your message needs to be. Force
your writing to fit that length. A
pre-determined word count helps establish how much data you need to
gather. This can result in a
substantial savings of time! Think of what this will do for
Think of what this will do for your focus!
Work from a written plan. Diagramming keywords or creating an outline help
to organize your thoughts before you put your fingers to the keyboard.
Keep in mind - your purpose!
Keep in mind - your purpose!
Be courteous. Be as polite and as interested in the reader as if he were sitting directly in front of you! Remember the person who will read your letter is a human being who will be annoyed if the letter is cold and pleased if it is courteous and friendly.
a beginning, middle and an end. Plan
in a triangle.
Your conclusion should refer to the beginning.
Beginning. Write a lead sentence that captures the essence of the
piece, then jump right into the action.
Rhetorical questions are a good place to begin. Avoid lengthy
introductions, they will slow down your writing.
Middle. Keep your ideas organized and tight. Don't go off on a
tangent. Strict adherence to
outlines can come in handy!
End. Include what the pros
call "closers" or "stingers."
End with a quote or call to action to make your point.
Rhetorical questions can also be used.
Watch your vocabulary. You should possess the insatiable appetite for new words. In writing the pursuit of the right word should never lead to pretension or hairsplitting: don't use arcane words merely to flaunt your vocabulary, don't make distinctions where no difference exists, and above all don't use any word unless you know its meaning. When in doubt, check the dictionary. Often reference the thesaurus assist in the removal of redundant words.
Language has a shelf life. Clichés and other commonly used expressions make writing seem stale, and they convey the impression that you're incapable of thinking for yourself. Avoid overly used metaphors, similes, or other figures of speech. Such references appear trite and can insult a sophisticated reader! You don't want to be considered "corny"
as many of these suggestions into your writing as possible. Don't be surprised
if you end up rewriting many of your sentences; many writers believe that
"the writing is in the rewriting."
Ernest Hemingway rewrote the last paragraph of his first work The
Sun Also Rises 28 times before it went to print.
Our next thoughts will be on "Proofreading!"
1. It's and Its
a contraction meaning "it is" while its is the possessive form
of it. This one is tricky since the apostrophe in all
other instances is the used in the possessive form.
a good idea to get between a dog and its favorite chew toy.
2. You, Your, and You're
Since all three words are spelled correctly,
spell checkers won't flag them. Consistent proof reading is the key to
identifying these problems - do not
count on your spell checker!
Anomaly sentence: Don't delay! Place you
order now! We offer free shipping if your in the United States.
3. Lose and Loose
can be used an adjective, adverb, or a verb:
But lose is always a verb:
His mother told him to lose the attitude or else.
The team never believed that they'd lose the game.
I was so happy to lose the extra 20 pounds I'd been carrying since
4. Compliment and Complement
These two homophones trip up even the most
careful writers. I am the biggest
hater of Homophones Damn the English language!
If you like your mother's new wallpaper,
you'll compliment her on her decorating skills.
Complement has meanings in grammar, medicine,
mathematics, and music, but it's most commonly used to indicate that something
completes a set or matches it well.
When you compliment your mother's wallpaper,
you might note how well the soft green color complements the off-white carpet.
5. Principal and Principle
A principle is a basic truth, policy, or
action. People dedicate their lives and careers to upholding principles
of truth and justice. Principals are people who uphold standards of good
behavior in schools.
A school's principal should always stick to
Remember children: the principal is your pal!
6. Except and Accept
connotes exclusion or something left out, like an exception to the rule.
means that you're receiving something, joining a group, entering into an
I'd accept your romantic marriage proposal -
except for one problem. I'm already married.
7. Affect and Effect
is a verb: it acts upon something, someone, or an emotion, while effect
is a noun.
The discovery that his wife could control the
weather affected her husband rather badly.
The so-called "Wealth Effect"
affected total consumer spending and debt levels far more than economists
8. Peak and Pique
A peak is the top of a mountain or the
highest point in something's development or intensity. Pique refers to an
emotion - usually anger or curiosity.
In a fit of pique, the rock climber hurled
his partner's favorite harness off the highest peak.
9. Assure, Insure and Ensure
The best explanation comes from the Dictionary.com
Assure, ensure, and insure all mean "to make secure or certain."
Only assure is used with reference to a person in the sense of "to
set the mind at rest": assured the leader of his loyalty. Although ensure
and insure are generally interchangeable, only insure is now
widely used in American English in the commercial sense of "to guarantee
persons or property against risk."
I assure you that the insured property owner
is taking steps to ensure your safety.
10. Moot and Mute
How often have you heard someone insist:
"it's a mute point!" Well, if it's a topic that's incapable of
making a sound, they're correct. But more often they're really trying to say
that it's a moot point - or one that's irrelevant.
Since the point was already moot, Abby stood
mutely in front of the teacher.
Bonus Error! Me, Myself and I
You see a lot of usage errors with these three
words. Generations of schoolchildren grew used to constant correction about the
use of me in sentences. While most learned that "Bob and me want
to go" is incorrect, they never learned the correct usage of the word me.
Would you please call Bob or me before you
leave? Is perfectly clear and acceptable.
Yet, well-meaning people substitute either I
or the reflexive pronoun myself instead. How often do you hear or read
something like this:
Would you please call Bob or myself before
Yuck! Take Bob out of the sentence and you're
either asking the person to "call I before you leave" or "call
myself before you leave." Neither one sounds or looks very attractive.
Don't be afraid to use the word me in
sentences, but take care to use it correctly!
Use Positive Words - See ... Positive Thinking!
Looking to get ATTENTION.... See Attention Words!
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