• Karen Osman

7 easy ways to improve your writing

From websites, brochures, and emailers to press releases, ad copy, and blogs, we’ve edited many words for clients over the years. While each piece of work is different, similar issues often need rewriting. If you write regularly but find it a struggle, here are seven easy ways to improve your content.

1. Use the active voice, not the passive This may have been drilled into you at school because there are many benefits of using the active voice. Guests have access to our premier lounge facilities sounds more dynamic than the passive version, our premier lounge facilities are accessible to guests. There is a stronger connection to the action and it makes your writing more concise. (This tip may not apply if you’re writing scientific/academic text.)

TIP: When writing, make sure you’re using the subject + verb + object structure.

2. Eliminate unnecessary words For example, this includes excessive adjectives, language that states the obvious, and unnecessary determiners and modifiers. Lengthy, long-winded writing can bore your reader and weaken your message. Consider, we would like to share some news about the latest addition to our product line, a new shampoo that offers a level of effectiveness against split ends versus our latest shampoo is effective against split ends. TIP: Edit ruthlessly and when planning word counts, always remember you’re likely to lose 10% of your work in the editing process.

3. Avoid cliches Often referred to as lazy writing, cliches are overused expressions that should be avoided like the plague. (See what I did there?) Because cliches are so common, we are often immune and don’t even see them, or they become irritating. Business speak is particularly dangerous territory for cliches. Hands up if you’ve ever rolled your eyes at being told to think outside the box! TIP: Watch out for cliche words and trite phrases that are vague or imprecise. 4. Vary sentence length Use sentence length for different effects. For example, a short staccato sentence can add drama and grab attention. Whereas, something longer and more poetic can paint a vivid picture. Be conscious that varying sentence lengths create a rhythm to your writing and alter accordingly.

TIP: Alternate sentence lengths to create a better reading experience. 5. Show don’t tell As Chekhov said: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” This technique will elevate your work instantly and immerse the reader in the experience you want to convey. TIP: Tailor your marketing copy so that it inspires customers to use their imagination and encourages them to act.

6. Always advance the story With every sentence and paragraph you write, double-check that it adds something to the narrative. This is really at the heart of good writing and what readers want – writing that is compelling, engaging, and leaves them wanting to know more. TIP: Develop an outline and think carefully about the order of your messages, as well as the call to action you want to include.

7. Choose your verbs carefully Powerful, dynamic verbs (that don’t rely on adverbs to get the meaning across) will enhance your writing. For example, compare: The mother ran quickly to her child. The mother sprinted to her child. TIP: Identify verbs and adverbs which could be edited to a single verb.

Take a look at our writing training sessions to get your communication skills up to speed.