Whether you are writing for personal or professional purposes, these simple improvements will perk up your presentation. When your writing is precise, polished, and to the point, your message will be better delivered and received.
The following pointers will improve your business content, blog posts, resumes, bios, and academic writing. As you will see, most of the improvements overlap and are related, making them even easier to consistently implement.
Print out this list and hang it near your desk as a constant reminder to replace bad writing habits with better choices.
Quick and Easy Writing Improvements
Choose Your Words Carefully: Every word counts, especially with resumes, business content, and academic writing—pieces that are often restricted by page and word count parameters. Choose one powerful word over a string of weak words that beat around the bush. The thesaurus (www.thesaurus.com) is a great resource for “word upgrades,” or replacing a weak and overused word with something more specific and of higher quality. Meaningful adjectives and adverbs can also make your writing more specific and detailed.
Be Active: Select strong verbs that show direct action rather than writing in passive voice. Avoid “to be” verbs and try to have someone doing something, not having something done to them (unless it adds to the meaning of the sentence to have it the other way). For example, “She is smart” doesn’t provide the reader with any details about the statement, and it doesn’t include any action. “The smart student scored a perfect 100 on all seven tests this marking period” discloses a specific action. Another improvement example: replacing “The boy was bit by the dog” with “The aggressive dog bit the shy boy.” A good way to remember to include action is “show, don’t tell.”
Keep It Simple: Rid your writing of any unnecessary words and repetition, which is a process much like spring cleaning your closet. This improvement still presents me with the most challenge, despite a lifetime of writing. I usually write a first draft to get down my content, making sure it is accurate and presents all of the information I need to convey; at this point, I don’t worry about being wordy because I know that editing while writing can negatively impact my content. Then, after all content is in place, I chop excess words away over several rounds, deleting and rewording so my writing is streamlined and direct. Think: Did I already say this? Is this point essential to the meaning? What would be a more direct way of putting this?
Clean It Up at the End: Again, editing and proofreading while generating content can distract from your content and focus. After all content is in place and unnecessary words have been cut, lend a careful eye to editing and proofreading. Check spelling, punctuation, organization, and sentence and paragraph structure. Make sure there are no mistakes and that the sentences and paragraphs connect and flow. Does each paragraph have a main idea and maintain its focus? Are like thoughts grouped together? Eliminate typos. Never rely on spell check, as it often confuses words and makes incorrect auto-fixes. Also, recruit a second, trustworthy set of eyes to give your piece a final read through, as sometimes, we don’t see our own mistakes.
Here is a quick example of writing that implements the above improvements: Instead of “I was nominated by the executive board for the Salesman of the Year Award because I got 125 percent my sales quota every quarter of the year,” write, “Due to achieving 125 percent of my sales quota every quarter, I earned the executive board’s nomination for the Salesman of the Year Award.”
Learn more about All About Writing and owner Christa Riddle at www.allaboutwritingconsulting.com. Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away! Call us today to schedule your free consultation and get your project underway. We are here to assist with any phase of the project.
-by Christa Riddle