300 Days of Better Writing

August 28, 2014

Use concluding words to state your main point.

When you are writing a document to persuade your reader about an idea, you present your supporting ideas or evidence leading up to the main point. If you do this well, your reader will come to the same conclusion that you are trying to make.
To show that you have finished making your argument (i.e., completed writing about the reasons for your idea) and are about to state the main idea, you use a concluding word. A concluding word tells the reader, “Based on this information, I conclude that . . . .” Sample concluding words and phrases are thus, therefore, in conclusion, and as a consequence.
These concluding words provide a signpost for the reader. They say, “I’m done giving the evidence, and now I’m going to tell you the idea that I want you to believe.”
You may be able to make your main point without them. However, they are very effective for helping the reader identify what it is you want them to understand.

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February 11, 2014

Write and rewrite until you communicate clearly.

Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure . . . it just means you haven’t succeeded yet.

(Robert Schuller)

When I write a new article for publication, for posting on our blogs, or for inclusion in our training manual, I have someone else read it. Here’s the typical scenario.

I give the article to my marketing specialist. She points to a particular paragraph and says, “This doesn’t make sense to me.” We talk about it, and I rewrite it. I give it to her again, and she says, “Ok, I get it now, but it’s still too complicated. Can you make it simpler?” So I do it again.

In the draft article, I am trying to communicate certain ideas, but I’m failing. The words are all there, and they make sense to me, but I am not communicating. I keep re-working the article until I can clearly communicate those ideas.

This back-and-forth process we use is a necessary part of the writing process. I could say, “Ok, I give up. I’m tired of re-working this piece. I can’t do it. Just publish it like it is.” Then, and only then, will I be a failure. But when I stay with the process, I will succeed with my goal: communication.

This is the strategy for day 140 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.

October 15, 2013

Write in the appropriate style and tone.

You identified your main and supporting ideas. You organized them logically. You know who your readers are, what they expect, and why they are reading your document. The next step is writing.

As you write, think about how the reader will perceive you (or the organization you represent). What impression do you want to give? The answer to this question will affect your style of writing.

Also, think about the reader’s emotional response. How do you want the reader to feel about the content and you? The answer to this question will affect the tone of your document.

This is only your first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Your purpose is to get the ideas on paper. Other than very light editing, don’t spend too much time revising. You will do that after you finish writing your first draft. You cannot effectively maintain the stream of your thoughts, focus on content, or adhere to a logical organization if you keep interrupting yourself to revise your words.

This is the strategy for day 80 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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