Writing Worth Reading

In a world where anyone can write a book and get it published regardless of  its merit or readability, authors have come to believe they can write however they wish. And of course, they can. Who is going to stop them? There are no longer any gatekeepers to the world of publishing. But still, writing is about communicating. If a writer cannot communicate what he or she wants to say so that another person can follow the story or article without sorting through typos, unruly punctuation, or poor sentence structure, then the writer has failed.

Whether we are bloggers, content producers for various websites, novelists, these are all tenets we must heed:

1. Use dynamic verbs and concrete nouns, and keep adjectives and adverbs to a minimum. Watch for word qualifiers such as “a little,” “quite,” “somewhat.” They undermine our authority and make our writing seem indecisive.

2. Action first; reaction second. Cause first, effect second. “He finished smoking his cigar, then he aired out the room.” Not: “He aired out the room after he finished smoking his cigar.” When we don’t use the proper sequence, our writing seems unfocused.

3. Use active voice; too much use of passive makes our writing seem muffled.

4. Don’t be clever just for the sake of cleverness, don’t complicate the obvious, and don’t be unconventional for the sake of being exotic; ultimately, our readers will feel used or confused, and we will lose them.

5. Punctuation, spelling, and grammar do count. Content is important, but what good is all our wisdom if we come across as dolts?

6. Strive for clarity, economy, grace, and dignity. We can string words together, but without at least a couple of these particular elements, our writing will not be worth reading.

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