Hey, I’m excited about our lessons this month! We’ll be discussing the pillars of online writing and every letter will be a masterclass that can transform your writing in four weeks if you take them to heart.
“Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next, and it’s not a question of gimmicks to ‘personalize’ the author. It’s a question of using the English language in a way that will achieve the greatest clarity and strength.” - William Zinsser.
Clear is compelling. Clear is powerful. Clear writers dangle the banana of words from tree to tree and have readers, hooping over branches, salivating for a bite at the next sentence. Asking themselves, what next? what next?
When your writing becomes so good that readers are blissfully unaware they’re reading, you, my friend is a Nobel Laureate winner in waiting.
There are two ways to clarify your writing. By writing with absolute clarity and by making your words visually appealing to readers.
Let’s dissect the first part. Here are four of the most important ways to write with absolute clarity:
Be specific. Know exactly what you want to say:
Clear writing is clear thinking right? And clear thinking is a whole new way to live. Knowing what you want to write about can amplify your writing to an extraordinary level. The singular most important question to ask yourself is
What point do I want to make?
If you can’t give a confident answer to the question, research and edit till you can. Any published work without a form of usefulness to the reader is like the earth without form and void.
Example: The purpose of this lesson is to point out the ways for writers to write clearly. So every paragraph that doesn’t support this narrative, will never see the pupil of your eyes.
The Light of your writing is its point and purpose. Even when you want to write to express yourself. Let every story, every event, every tear that you shed, weave an interwoven fabric of value and concision.
“But what if I’m writing in order to understand?” Great, by all means, do that. Nothing makes you understand a topic faster than writing about it or teaching. But after you’ve written about it and you have a firm understanding, revise that entire draft and delete all the uncertain parts.
Writing is not publishing. You can write to understand, but whatever people read must be written in properly understood form. People don’t want to follow you on a journey of confusion. They read to become better.
Do the work for them and write the most certain thing you know about a topic. Remove words you’re unsure of and own your opinion. You write to influence, so give due diligence to that power.
Learn while writing, publish after understanding.
How can you stay on the track of your point while writing:
Write a one-sentence outline at the beginning
Create a list of what you want to include
Remove irrelevant items
Define your audience.
Remember how we said, “Write from your pain and for your pain, write from your knowledge and for your expertise” And all of that nice stuff. That’s still the truest and purest form of writing.
But the moment you hit that publish button, every word has now emerged from the larvae of your self to the butterfly of public consumption.
While you’re reading this, I can’t sit beside you and read it aloud word for word while explaining to you my point of view. Same goes for your readers, whatever you write and publish, you can’t take back.
So it is an absolute must for you to write in the language of your audience and in the form that is easy to read and understand. How can you do this?
Define who you’re writing for. What’s their language?
What do they need? What possible questions will they have while reading?
Now imagine talking to them face-face and write in that manner.
Revise as necessary
Talking isn’t complicated. You don’t use fancy vocabulary or overly long words when talking to your bestie over coffee. “I gravitatedly assert that Kim Kardashian is preposterously disposed to social media antics”
Block that friend!
Or imagine a date that rumbles on and on without giving you space to breathe and process what he/she is saying? Yes, that’s you writing in long paragraphs without line breaks.
Use simple words
Avoid vague and unfamiliar words
Use shorter sentences.
What links, description, statistics can you use to solidify your point. What pictures can you paint in the mind of the readers?
If you want to make readers feel uncertain about a character, for instance, show them the changing nature of that character instead of telling them.
Before: There’s something unsure about Dave, he acts like a confused fellow.
After: Shrugging his shoulders while he speaks, Dave expresses himself in muttered language and makes you wonder what he’s thinking about.
In the first sentence, we made a conclusion about dave from out of nowhere. It’s very unclear how and why the writer thinks he’s confused. In the second, we portrayed the emotion of confusion, rather than the state of it. Which version of Dave will readers find more confused?
Exactly. So where context can be given, always give it and don’t make conclusions for your readers. Clear writing is naturally deductive. Let your readers form their own conclusions. Especially in fiction writing.
Vary your sentences: Long and short, short and mid-length. Consider your writing as musical lyrics. From ear to ear, make your words sound like Mozart played them on the Grand Piano.
My favourite paragraphs are one-sentence paragraphs. Cultivate the habit of using short, snappy sentences. They’re more fun to write, easier to understand and help you convey your thoughts more clearly. Don’t discard the long sentences though, sweet and clear writing is a mix of both.
How you do this is completely up to you. Reading your work out loud can help you in achieving writing that flows beautifully. What sentence sounds off or too long or breaks the flow? Wave goodbye to it without remorse.
Treat your words like crystals. Clear, concise. Transparent
Wow, I definitely learnt a lot while writing this, I hope you did too. Writing clearly is one part, the next bit is to reap the rewards of your hard work, by giving your readers a chance to enjoy what you’ve written. Make your work visually appealing.
Clarity 102 will be a banger, I don’t want you to miss it next Sunday!
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Till next time,