Every day when I surf around the web, I notice how many people have a hard time writing in a clean, clear way. Here are some key concepts I try to use:
- Decide what to say and make the most important points first, in case your reader gets bored or distracted and wanders off mid-read. We all do it.
- An oldie but goodie: use subheadings, bullets, and numbered lists when you can, in case the reader is skimming. We all do that, too.
- When reviewing a draft, imagine you’re a cranky, very impatient person – say, your mother’s aunt – and ask, “So what?” after reading each bit. If there isn’t a good answer, cut it.
- Don’t use big words when small ones will do. They slow things down and increase the likelihood your reader will go find something better to do. “Gigantic” is more evocative than “big,” but “utilize” isn’t better than “use.”
- Avoid words like “evocative” if you don’t know what they mean. There are many free dictionaries on the web.
- Skip the trendy terms and expressions, like “planful,” or “that said.” They can have more than one meaning, or be just plain wrong. Some readers will stop to ponder, or be confused, or even go look it up. Keep them with you!
All of these points assume you will take time to write a draft or two. Or three. Do it! If possible, have someone else read your draft, too. If you can’t do that, take a long break, preferably overnight. In the morning, you’ll likely notice phrases that are unclear or unnecessary, and catch a mistake or two.
Last, notice I said, “key concepts I try to use.” Don’t drive yourself crazy chasing perfection. One can’t effectuate that no matter what methodology is utilized.