300 Days of Better Writing

May 20, 2013

Shift the source of questionable information to maintain credibility.


What do you do if you are not confident about your ideas? You may still want to write it, but you don’t want to be accused of misleading your reader if the idea is proven wrong. The most common reason for hedging, after all, is fear that you will lose credibility and, frankly, look dumb.

Here’s what you do: Shift the source of the idea to a third party, i.e., give credit for the idea to someone else. Here’s an example.

Hedging: “I think tomorrow will be a warm day.”
[Risky approach; weak writing]

Confident: “Tomorrow will be a warm day.”
[Also risky; strong writing]

Shifted: “The weatherman said that tomorrow will be a warm day.”
[Not risky; shifted source; strong writing]

If the idea is proven wrong, you are not to blame, and you won’t lose credibility with your reader. And you won’t look dumb.


This is the strategy for day 16 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

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