Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ~ Leonardo da Vinci
At Ripcord Communications, we love to simplify your life – and your writing. After all, they do go hand-in-hand. That’s why we offer tips to not only make you a writing superstar but to attract new clients, and grow your business.
Today we will go through some writing hacks that will allow your work to shine – and all in little time. Try these simple tips help dump the fluff for a better flow. Whatever your writing process is, follow up with these tidbits in the editing process to improve your copy.
(1) Shake It Up, Baby
We writers love juicy words but sometimes can fall too in love with them. Even experts tend to lean on their favorites. But for regular readers, it’s important to keep them engaged with new content. Variety is the spice of life and it follows as such in your writing. The last thing you want is to induce boredom since attention is so hard to grab in the first place. You have a captive audience, so shake it up. Short one, two or three-word sentences may be a great tool to emphasize key points. Get it? Got it? Good!
(2) Reduce Redundant Noun Strings
A noun string is the use of too many nouns in a row. They can be difficult to avoid in writing of a technical nature, but it’s important to be aware of them and how they affect the flow of your writing. Separate redundant noun strings, restructure the sentence and always read aloud to see if it actually sounds good to the ear.
According to plainlanguage.gov, “Readability suffers when three words that are ordinarily separate nouns follow in succession. Once you get past three, the string becomes unbearable. Technically, clustering nouns turn all but the last noun into adjectives. However, many users will think they’ve found the noun when they’re still reading adjectives, and will become confused.” [Are you feeling confused?]
(3) To Be or Not To Be
Is your work feeling too wordy or clunky? Do you find yourself beating around the bush to make a point? Then it may need a bit of a clean-up. Are you using too many “to be” words such as be, am, is, are, was, were, being, and been? These words tend to clutter your copy because they are attached to secondary verbs. Eliminate them and skip right along to your primary action verb. Sure your word count may be down a tad, but what we want is quality over quantity. More is less. Words carry weight, but the less there are, the more weight they will carry.
“It’s not that “to be” verbs are always bad; sometimes writers must use “to be” verbs to communicate exactly what the writer wants to say,” says Mark Pennington of the Pennington Publishing Blog. “In fact, these verb forms can be difficult to replace.”
(4) Preposition Population
Just like reducing “to be” verbs, eliminating prepositions tightens up your copy. “There are about 150 prepositions in English,” according to englishclub.com. “Yet this is a very small number when you think of the thousands of other words (nouns, verbs etc). Prepositions are important words. We use individual prepositions more frequently than other individual words. In fact, the prepositions of,to and in are among the ten most frequent words in English.”
Limit yourself to one or two prepositional phrases per sentence. Don’t lose the reader with run-on sentences and confuse them. Be creative and separate ideas. Some prepositions are unavoidable—and you shouldn’t try to eliminate them completely—but use them sparingly.
(5) Simplify to Beautify
Cut it out! Not only do we want to avoid redundancy, but get rid of unnecessary empty words. Phrases such as “kind of,” “actually” and “basically,” clutter up your wonderful work and reduce the focus on what’s meaningful. Don’t distract from your main points and bury the headline.
(6) Does This Make Sense?
When you proofread, consider the material as if you were reading it for the first time. If you can’t separate yourself for a fresh look, then ask for help. It’s hard to read your own work when you’re so intimately involved – so no shame.
“Readers must feel that sentences in a paragraph are not just individually clear, but are unified with each other. Readers should be able to move easily from one sentence to the next, feeling that each sentence “coheres” with the one before and after it,” suggest the folks at Purdue Online Writing Lab.
Wrapping it Up
You already have the basic building blocks to be an awesome writer. Just like any other skill, it takes time and practice to improve the finer points of expressing your thoughts. We hope you found these hacks helpful and would love to hear yours.
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