Writing Well I – pointers for blogs and articles
By Duane Hewitt
Articles about good writing skills can appear to be repetitive in content. After all, topics like content, style, form, and grammar can only go so far – or so it may seem. The fact is there can be much to review without tiring out the reader with repetition. This article addresses some points that make for good writing in current forums like the Internet.
The “warm up” – how writers waste time on weak opening sentences: The Internet has provided opportunities for writers both good and bad. Content is also generally either good or bad. One pitfall that is now overly common involves pointless intros to articles and blogs. Too many writers give us opening sentences that are valueless, telling us things that are obvious and needn’t be said. What’s actually happening in such scenarios is that the writer is warming up to the topic of their writing. This can happen with any writer, but such empty content needs to be edited out for the final draft and replaced with clarity, direction, and purpose.
By example, instead of, “There are many types of carbohydrates and we all tend to have our favorite carbs, any of which can do much to impact our health and the way we feel, particularly for those with diabetes…”
This statement begins by telling us nothing we don’t already know. It’s empty. All it does is waste the reader’s time. Instead, when starting your article about Diabetes and Carbohydrates, go with, “For those with type II diabetes, the following information about carbohydrates and the way carbs are processed in the body will help you manage your diabetes.”
Watch out for senseless openings to your articles. Get to the point. Doing so will hold the reader’s attention while identifying the topic of your writing.
Know what you’re talking about: There’s an inclination for many writers on the Internet to write about topics that they know little about and say even less. Empty content is like the blah-blah-blah of a drunk on a barstool who thinks they have something to say when they don’t. Don’t talk through your hat. As a writer, it’s your responsibility to research, verify, and report. Give us facts, figures, and insight. Tell us something we don’t already know; something new and refreshing. Don’t wing it. Every piece of information in your writing should be accurate and there for a purpose.
Paragraphs: A paragraph is a unit of thought. It should contain views and info that are presented in orderly fashion within the context of your article. Make certain your writing doesn’t have paragraphs that are so loaded with different topics that no one topic is defined. Edit and rewrite as necessary. Rearrange wording and content for clarity.
Clarity: Write clear, concise sentences. The reader shouldn’t be taxed with trying to figure out what you mean. Different styles of writing (such as in literature, by example) may allow for what comes across as nebulous in style, but that’s no excuse for unclear writing when clarity is what is required.
The passive voice vs. the active voice: Go with the active voice. The active voice is direct and generally uncompromising. It gets to the point with writing that is clear and tight. “He ran to the water fountain and died,” is better than, “Upon arriving at the water fountain and after running to get there, he passed away.”
Breaking the rules: It has been said before and will be said again: Understanding the rules of good writing can empower you to break those rules because you understand what you are doing and why, thereby enhancing your writing, even if only in style. No two writers are alike, and writing styles will differ and even change over time. But none of this is an excuse for not understanding the craft of writing. Breaking the rules works best when you know how because it puts you, the writer, in control.
Much of what there is to be said about writing well comes from our experiences as a reader. For blogs and articles on the Internet, as well as for other types of writing in other forums, be clear, concise, informative, interesting, and entertaining. Your readers will be grateful.
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.