August 12, 2017

Common sense, but unusual, tips for better writing

5 ways for PR pros to sharpen their writing by Megan Krause

I LOVE this article from PR Daily (click on title to read).  The advice is spot on, and it goes beyond the typical advice, such as "use the active voice."

My favorite tip is:  Stop Being Wishy-Washy.  As the author states:
When you're done writing, go back through your copy eyeing timid words and phrases. Strike out any instance of "just"—as in, "I'm just writing to say" or "I just want you to know"—you don't need to qualify what you're saying. It's OK to have an opinion.
I've given the same advice to my academic coaching clients.  And I agree that you should edit later to find the wishy-washy phrases, as opposed to trying to write that way in your first drafts.  See the article for the list of words to look out for.

The wishy-washiness goes beyond words that weaken the sentence.  Writers can be wishy-washy about getting to the point, even hiding their main argument in a pile of words.  I tell my clients:

Come right out and say it!

Don't make the reader search for your main point!   You don't want your reader to be annoyed with you before you even get to the point.  Own it, state it proudly, then explain. 

I've done exactly this myself, when I write newsletter articles and blog post.  Often I've found that the second or third paragraph can become the first, and it then looks perfectly clear.  So play around with the order of your paragraphs, once you've written a few drafts.  You may be surprised at how much better it reads.