Polish your prose

I love the written word. Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve been putting words on paper. And if you are like me, you fall in love with each of them as they take form on the page in front of you. Maybe that works if I am producing the next epic novel; but not in today’s fast paced world of give me the information and make it quick.

So I’ve come up with my top 10 list for saying what I need to say the best way!

  1. Write tight! Use short sentences and short words. Include subheads, lists and sidebars.
  2. Start where your readers are – what is their understanding? No need to tell them what they already know.
  3. Avoid jargon
  4. Use strong verbs and nouns. Don’t use four words when one will do. Was he really, really tired? Or exhausted?
  5. Be brief – Avoid windy phrases (just say now)
  6. Clarify the complex. Numbers are numbing. They can be meaningless unless you tell a reader why it is important. Make them meaningful, tangible, or familiar. For example, the refund could buy 25 computers for the classroom.
  7. Write for your audiences. Don’t write above or beneath them.
  8. Be creative in your leads. Save the 5 W’s for the second or third paragraph, especially in your feature pieces.
  9. Read your writing out loud. You’ll find problems with voice, missing words, punctuation and more.

And my last tip really has more to do with when the words stop flowing than when you are filling up the pages. It happens to all of us – the next sentence won’t come. You’re staring at a blank page watching the cursor do that slow blink, blink, blink.

What happens when writers block hits?

  1. Change your routine. Pick up a crayon or a sharpie and write with it. Go to a new spot for lunch. Go for a walk. Laugh. I’ve even heard start in the middle of the story. The key is do anything that takes the focus off of the writing.

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