Message Form

Updated at 2018-04-05 17:18

Use active voice over passive voice. Passive voice is harder to understand and leaves an expression that the speaker doesn't know any more details.

# bad                                  => good
People are bored by passive sentences. => Active sentences excite people.

# good if the gunman is not known
A gun was fired.

Analyse every word. Choose the words that deliver the real meaning you are seeking.

# bad, does not tell who creates the solution
Company delivers solutions to business problems behind
the most challenging projects.

# good, 'solves' means active doing
Company solves business problems behind
the most challenging projects.

Speak with authority. Be confident in your writing; no one enjoys the "maybe" vibes.

# bad
The initial release of the product was potentially weaker than it should
have been. No one knew if it would work anyway, but there were a couple of
things that made me believe it could work...

# good
The product launch was a disaster, even though I could see it working...

Avoid fancy words. Prefer the word that you were first thinking. Choose the simplest form that delivers the meaning you want.

# bad                           => good
close proximity                 => near
utilize                         => use
numerous                        => many
kukri                           => curve-bladed knife

Avoid fluff words. Each word you write should change the meaning of the message. The most useless words are "very" and "really."

# bad                           => good
I was rather very frustrated.   => I was frustrated.
very happy                      => delighted
very afraid                     => terrified
very clever                     => brilliant
very stupid                     => idiotic
very fast                       => quick
right now                       => immediately

Use strong nouns over adjectives. They make your sentences more powerful.

# bad                           => good
severe problem                  => crisis

Avoid jargon. Consider your audience and make sure they understand words you are using. Each word has at least one suitable synonym.

# bad           => good
Backup          => Duplicate a digital file for safekeeping.
FTP             => You may host your files there.
CTR             => Users were clicking the link more.
IIRC            => If I remember correctly.

Be specific when you are making a point. In this context, all those extra words have a meaning, they enforce your point.

# bad
Because I grow lots of flowers in my backyard.

# good when you are making a point that you have a huge amount of flowers
Because I grow 34 varieties of flowers in my backyard, including pink
coneflowers, purple asters, yellow daylilies, Shasta daisies,
and climbing clematis.

Avoid rambling. You should stay on topic even if you feel a temptation to pour all your knowledge into the paragraph.

Rambling is a big problem for many writers. Not as big as some other
problems, such as affordable health insurance or the Middle East,
which has been a problem for many decades because of disputes over
territory. Speaking of which, the word "territory" has an interesting
word origin from terra, meaning earth.

Learn to polish. When you think your writing is ready, go it through and consider deleting each sentence and paragraph. Think of it as grinding a sword; you are taking pieces off to make it shiny and sharp.

Steal without getting caught. Mimic what the best are doing and do it your way. Don't steal ideas or words, take writing style and mutate it. Study your favorite author's writing, not what words they use but how they structure their text. If you borrow any ideas or words, always include source references.