3 Ways to Make Your Writing Clearer and More Engaging

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Uncategorized
Daily Blog Tips

Your ideas may be superb while floating in your cranium. Once they get to paper, however, if they’re difficult to understand or blandly presented, their impact will be compromised. Blogging’s at its best when ideas are expressed clearly and compellingly.

The following three strategies will assist you:

1. Move confusing sentences to a clean page

Ever been whistling along with your blog post when suddenly you arrive at a thought you’re trying to express on paper, yet it’s being completely uncooperative like a toddler who refuses to eat his brussels sprouts?

If you’re dealing with a bratty sentence that doesn’t want to be clear and concise, don’t let it just sit there misbehaving. You have to discipline it. To do so, move the disorderly sentence away from your post, onto an empty page.

Once you’ve pasted the confusing sentence into clear, white space, begin formulating a new sentence underneath it. By moving the confusing sentence outside of your post and onto an empty page, you won’t be distracted by the rest of your writing. The singularity of focus gained will help you create a better, clearer sentence.

Sometimes it’s helpful when pasting the confusing sentence to include the surrounding sentences for context.

2. Replace a word used in consecutive sentences when it’s monotonous

I’ll use an example from a blog post I wrote that uses a river as a metaphor. Pay close attention to how the word ‘rushing’ is used in two consecutive sentences.

Here’s the original segment:

“Do you hear the sound of the water rushing over the rocks? Tell me… when you hear the rushing water, when are you hearing it; in the past or the future? Neither. It’s only possible to hear this precious sound in the now.”

Do you notice how the word ‘rushing’ used in these consecutive sentences sounds monotonous? Using this word consecutively dulls the delivery because it’s repetitive to the reader’s ear. Instead, it’s best to replace one of the usages of ‘rushing’ with a synonym or something close to it.

Look at the improved version with the second use of ‘rushing’ replaced with a new word:

“Do you hear the sound of the water rushing over the rocks? Tell me… when you hear the babbling water, when are you hearing it; in the past or the future? Neither. It’s only possible to hear this precious sound in the now.”

Much better sounding prose, no? In the aforementioned example, replacing one of the usages of ‘rushing’ actually fosters a more vivid picture in the reader’s mind. A thesaurus can help you come up with a good replacement for a word that’s detrimentally used twice in a row.

3. Don’t over explain

Our writing often gives enough information so that the reader will understand what you’re conveying even if you didn’t specify every last detail. If you’re determined to give information that your readers will discern without your help, you’ve bloated your writing and slowed its delivery.

In the book On Writing, Stephen King reminds us, “If I tell you that Carrie White is a high school outcast with bad complexion and a fashion-victim wardrobe, I think you can do the rest, can’t you? I don’t need to give you a pimple-by-pimple, skirt-by-skirt rundown.”

The above principle applies equally to non-fiction.

Earlier I told you that when you’re dealing with a confusing sentence, you should move it onto an empty page and construct a clearer sentence underneath to take its place.

I also added this:

“Sometimes it’s helpful when pasting the confusing sentence to include the surrounding sentences for context.”

You’ll notice I didn’t specify how many surrounding sentences you should include because that’s something you’ll determine yourself, right?

When writing for your audience, always make clarity and engagement the highest priority.

About the Author: Bamboo Forest created Tick Tock Timer, an online timer that helps bloggers increase their focus and get more work.


Original Post: 3 Ways to Make Your Writing Clearer and More Engaging

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