4 essential and 15 optional aspects to balance the authentic and the elegant in your stories.
Some of you may have read my story on the dangers of boredom in too many blogs being written by formula. This post has the mitigation I promised in it.
I had the idea to separate the vital core that makes an article, post, essay or blog worthwhile from that which polishes it.
Content trumps form. If your writing does not inform, instruct, inspire or entertain, it has no business being out there. This is the litmus test.
- Be original — in ideas, shared experiences, perspectives, or amusement.
- Add value to your reader; respect your reader, don’t write for vanity.
- Remove grammatical errors.
- Leave no mis-spellings [especially those not caught by grammar-checking].
But we know that more people will interact with us if we are friendly, pleasant, clean, well-dressed and have a sparkle.
Here is the distillation of all the tips to burnish writing I’ve come across or thought of, over a year. Mind you, treat them as support and not the main thing. Use them with a light and discerning hand.
Good form can help authentic writing reach further and achieve more.
- Remove redundant words — lean is an excellent profile.
- Be concise, simple, as short as possible to make the point — readers are busy and need brevity.
- Tell the story, with a strong beginning, a middle and a memorable end — it’s the most natural experience, like sonata form in music.
- Read it aloud- make sure it flows in the reader’s mind.
- Write as you speak, for a single imagined listener — it will gain impact.
- Create an alluring title — catch the eye.
- Use a sub-title — pull in the reader whose eye you caught.
- Give breathing space in the body — it will lighten the reading.
- Use headings, sub-headings and lists within the body — they sustain interest.
- Use the right fonts — for effortless reading.
- Use contextual yet unusual images — liven up the text.
- Mix it up, be interesting, unpredictable, add variety — keep your readers coming back.
- Add a touch of humour, even wit if you have it — for relief.
- Read a lot and widely — imbibe style.
- Write often, even if you don’t publish it all — expertise takes practice.
Master the craft to serve your content.
There are diligent seekers of information, knowledge and insight out there who will take the trouble to hear you out. So, if you cannot improve the presentation beyond a point, release it without further delay, for you are still adding worth.
I dare say you will be hard-pressed to find writing tips elsewhere that are not covered here. Please print this out and keep it by your laptop.
If you’ve spent some time studying the art and have this collection you can stop worrying about missing something and just write for your life. You’ll be fine.
Enjoy your writing, but even more, ensure you’re writing for your reader to enjoy.
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