Monday, November 16, 2009
Cut to the straight and narrow
Want to get an audience to actually read your prose? Get off the meandering path and stick to the straight and narrow.
Strip it down
Along with being a writer you need to be an editor and this means, being brutal! Cut back on your word count dramatically by snipping off the excess word-fat and keeping it lean. This holds all the more true in the case of query letters where concise information is required, not a long drawn out account of how brilliant your article is. Check the ratio between the number of words you use and the amount of information you offer. A 50% ratio is good.
Get rid of relative pronouns: Avoid as much as possible using ‘that, which, who’ and their verbs.
E.g. The report that was submitted by Mr X is on my desk versus The report submitted by Mr. X is on my desk.
It’s quite common while editing to find a word repeated, not necessarily in the same sentence but in an adjoining one. Getting someone else to give your work a once-over can help reduce this problem immensely as can taking a break and getting back to the piece to view it with a fresh pair of eyes.
Stop being passive: Use the active voice as much as possible. Take action, tell your readers what they should (or should not be doing) and get straight to the point with doable advise.
E.g. I give versus You are given; Do this versus This should be done
Be animated: Start your sentence with an animate subject. Using animate subjects also allows you to select more colourful verbs.
E.g. We solved the problem versus The problem was solved.