Jargon makes your reader feel stupid. Why you use jargon. You think jargon makes you sound sophisticated. Explain what you mean in plain English.
Why you use numbers the wrong way. You think a number — any number — adds credibility. When citing a statistic, include the context compared to what? Why your insights are buried. We were all taught to write deductively: Force yourself to start with a bold statement. Each time you rewrite, rewrite the opener. Text without examples is dull and not credible.
Text with examples comes alive. Why you lack examples. For a piece of any length, plan to spend half the writing time doing research first.
If possible, cite a person who did something, not just a company. Why you lack signposts. Or take a shortcut: For more insights like this, follow me on twitter , read the posts below, or scroll down to sign up for daily writing tips with extra snark.
Print it out and hang it by the place where you write. Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang for suggesting this post. Printing this out and pinning it to my cube wall instead. Hemingway was the undisputed KING of the run-on sentence. Your example was misplaced. I may be biased, but I think Austen.
Talk about economy — every word carefully chosen, and put exactly where needed. Hemingway was the king of the run-on sentence? Give yourself time to both heal physically and to enjoy the newborn time that goes so fast. Congrats on the new baby by the way! Did you ever announce the name? He held something in his two hands that looked like a freshly skinned rabbit and hurried across the corridor with it and in through another door. I went down to the door he had gone into and found them in the room doing things to a new-born child.
The doctor held him up for me to see. He held him by the heels and slapped him. And Dickens is laughing: Great advice for commercial writing, not so much for novels- as the novels of today need more romance and vocabulary. That said, there are principles that apply across both domains. James Patterson is a bestselling author of commercial fiction. He uses enough words to tell a story without being superfluous. There is something to be said about using only the necessary words — fiction and non-fiction.
If the first paragraph is difficult to read and understand, rest assured the rest of the book will be the same. This is where I think things get lost.
The point here is valid for fiction and non-fiction alike. Now, some people are able to write literature that will land itself in collegiate curriculum… But the percentage of authors that are capable of effectively using vocabulary and nuanced language on such a level is rather low, comparatively. As an editor, I advise my clients, use the language and vocabulary that is natural to you. Your readers are far more likely to connect with simple and beautiful language, than something you pulled out trying to sound impressive.
Yes, this comment is spot-on. Actually, this is pretty good advice for fiction writers too. Economy of language is very important in fiction.
Florid, bloated language does not make for a good reading experience. I have read thousands of story submissions as an editor of literary magazines and contests, most of which I rejected on the grounds that the writer did not get to the point.
Pinker is the chair of the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. See this as well: That includes tech manuals and investigative journalism, but not poems and novels.
However, many of them are just as poignant, regardless of the genre. My advice is intended for non-fiction writers only. Fiction writers are liars by definition; bullshit does not apply. With fiction writing, the question becomes, is this artistically or stylistically relevant, or is it just shite writing? Fiction writers create worlds that must have internal consistency. If they lie, that fictional world crumbles. That is the question. I disagree with number 4; absolute statements ALWAYS alienate readers because they can come up with exceptions to your emphatic statements Do you see what I did there?
Better suggestion for the audience: Better yet, reword your sentence or paragraph so that you get across the point without needing to use them. And I should add, other than that minor point, I agree that this article is excellent. I knew he was a very impartial guy so I really questioned it. I realized quickly that my problem was that my emails were too wordy, my main points were buried, and I used weasely language to ask for what I really wanted because I was afraid of rejection.
Glad to have it so I can pass it on to others now. Writing teachers may not say to write in the passive voice, but they and their students do it all the time without thinking. The disdain of passive voice is puzzling to me. I have a real and powerful reason to disdain the passive voice: The other challenge with passive voice is it gives the reader and uneasy feeling that stuff is happening without knowing why or how or who.
You are left not knowing what to do about what you read. There are certainly situations where the passive voice makes sense.
Most passive voice is unconscious, poor communication. I was forbidden by a college English professor from writing in the passive voice for a whole semester. She just wanted me to be conscious of when I used it. I write for nonprofits now, and we fall into weak language and passive voice too often, watering down our message, so I get why this matters. I coach doctoral students working on large research papers and dissertations. Your list — and the handy graph — is a Godsend.
Is there a place for 7 in scholarly writing? See the comment on this thread from my friend Len Burman, the economist. Things are easing up. I did a post specifically on academic writing here: My only quibble is that you might want to consider audience and context. This writing advice is perfect for the business world, and for internet writing. Most of your advice is applicable to academic writing, too. However, that audience will demand some exceptions.
Know Thy Audience, should be the golden rule in any writing. Communication, in whatever form, should consider both the communicator and the recipient of the message. Or are they broad assumptions?
How do you know that every company has at least one or two radical developers? Well, as long as you have the facts to back up those bold statements. I am a community college writing teacher. Like most of my colleagues, I have never taught students to use passive voice unless the doer of the action is unimportant: Thanks for the post-. One suggestion — in 9 Cite Examples, you say: I see your point.
But if we do it your way, the writers must be prepared to throw out everything they wrote to warm up. It may give the writer a way to clear his head before delving into research. But if I have more time, I try to do all the research first. Researching, along with casual pondering, can lead to great, surprising ideas. But these ideas are often found at unexpected times like while showering.
If I have a long time to write a piece, I find it more helpful to explore a general topic than to aim towards something specific. I agree with 7 but not the example: Yes to all but 2. The Hemingway advice is good, but he wrote sentences averaging 28 words Francis Christensen did the study back in the 60s.
That means for every three-word sentence he wrote, he also wrote a word sentence. The only other advice I give is: This gives your reader immediate context for all the refining, more specific information.
Made me want to read his entire blog in one sitting! While most people will infer what you meant anyway, I would prefer that the sentence be constructed properly. For a struggling writer like me, this article and the discussions about it are so helpful and enlightening. Indeed, non fiction writing should always be clear, concise, convincing, coherent, and complete.
Thank you, Josh Bernoff. I doubt that the author has ever tried conveying philosophical ideas! You have to lead them by the hand. Even then they inevitably fail to understand. Of course they might not be reading it because it is too long. But making it shorter will definitely not facilitate understanding. No one would ever read any non-fictional books if that were so.
Reading the synopsis would do! Very insightful rules for budding and established writers. I would like to know how best to go about researching on and for a topic as I sometimes finds phase overwhelming. I enjoyed your writing while you were with Forrester. I feel most people enjoy rambling away, in person or on paper, which leads to poor writing. Passive voice has its uses, such as when the person performing the action is unknown, or when softening the impact of your words is actually desirable.
The world is not a simple place. Going around making unqualified generalisations can make you seem ignorant and over-confident. It will also get people thinking about exceptions to your rule rather than the general rule itself. Intelligent and educated people are naturally wary of anyone making sweeping statements. If you are writing for a specific field, using universally understood jargon will require far fewer words than explaining everything so you mum can understand it.
Got here by way of Jay Bauer. Very enlightening facts, yet in writing there are certain things to be considered like avoiding unique uncommon words and use simple plain words instead.
My college freshman ask me for my best writing tips. I passed on my best writing advice. But I also sent him a link to this site. I clicked because I was interested in the table, but the content dissuaded me. Drafting Your Statement Statements of Purpose: The Basics In-Text Citations: Basic Rules Reference List: Articles in Periodicals Reference List: Other Print Sources Reference List: Electronic Sources Reference List: Organization and Structure Graduate Writing Workshops: Introductions Graduate Writing Workshops: Literature Reviews Graduate Writing Workshops: Style Graduate Writing Workshops: Editing and Proofreading Graduate Writing Workshops: Copyright and Plagiarism Collaborative Authorship Handout: Specificity in Writing Grant Writing: Introduction Grant Writing in the Sciences: Planning Grant Writing in the Sciences:
(The psychology of writing, after all, as Kellogg notes in the introduction, is a proxy for the psychology of thinking.) The correlation between skill level and task difficulty also plays a role — feeling like your skills are not up to par raises your level of anxiety, which in turn makes noise more bothersome.
Welcome to the Online Psychology Writing Center, a joint venture of the Psychology Department and the University Writing Center. Student Resources.
Writing Guides We provide many widely used handouts on general and scientific writing (e.g., steps for writing a scientific paper, style points for scientific writing, how to write a literature review, APA citation format). What this handout is about This handout discusses some of the common writing assignments in psychology courses, and it presents strategies for completing them. The handout also provides general tips for writing psychology papers and for reducing bias in your Continued.
Engaging and lively, The Psychology of Writing is the perfect introduction to the subject for students, researchers, journalists, and interested general readers. Editorial Reviews Review "There was not a moment in reading and rereading this book where we doubted its worth, craft, or novelty. /5(5). Engaging and lively, The Psychology of Writing is the perfect introduction to the subject for students, researchers, journalists, and interested general readers. Read more Read less Prime Book Box for Kids/5(5).