The Top 42 Writing Posts Of 2016

At the beginning of every year, we have a tradition of posting our Top 42 Writing Posts from the previous year. (There was no special reason for the number 42 in 2013 when we started, but we've kept up the tradition since then.)

These were the posts you wanted to see on this website in 2016. The articles are written by Amanda PattersonMia Botha, and Anthony Ehlers.

The runaway favourite was Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 35: 3 Must-Have Scenes That Reveal Character by Anthony Ehlers.

Please tell us which post you liked best in the comments section below.

  1. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 35: 3 Must-Have Scenes That Reveal Character
  2. 60 Things For Your Characters To Do When They Talk Or Think
  3. 13 Writing Lessons From Stephen King’s On Writing
  4. The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction - And Why They Matter
  5. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 1: Start Strong, Start Simple
  6. 7 Other Characters To Consider When You Write A Book
  7. Have You Tried The Most Dangerous Writing App?
  8. 33 Perfectly Odd Oxymorons
  9. What Makes A Reader Stop Reading A Book?
  10. Affect vs Effect & 34 Other Common Confusions
  11. 20 Writing Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make
  12. 33 Commonly Misunderstood Words & Phrases
  13. 10 Dialogue Errors To Avoid At All Costs
  14. The 7 Critical Elements Of A Great Book
  15. How To Write Fabulous Dialogue In 5 Easy Steps
  16. The 4 Writing Styles Everybody Needs To Know
  17. 18 Things Writers Need To Know About Editing And Proofreading
  18. The Only Character Questionnaire You Need to Complete
  19. Don't Ever Do This When You Write For Children
  20. The Top 42 Writing Posts of 2015
  21. 7 Awesome Foreshadowing Tips For Fiction Writers
  22. Past Or Present Tense? Which One Will You Use?
  23. The Awesome Foursome Fictional Characters
  24. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 2: Finding Your Red, Yellow, And Blue
  25. 10 Writing Contests You Should Definitely Enter
  26. 127 Prompts To Finish Before You Write About Yourself
  27. 5 Weak Words To Avoid & What To Use Instead
  28. 6-Stage Plot Structure For Successful Storytelling
  29. 7 Choices That Affect A Writer's Style
  30. 6 Things Alfred Hitchcock Can Teach You About Writing
  31. All About Prefixes
  32. 6 Ways To Shorten Your Sentences And Improve Your Writing
  33. 8 Important Things To Remember When You Rewrite Dialogue
  34. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 3: Getting To Grips With Genre And Tone
  35. February Writing Prompts
  36. From Passive Voice To Active Voice - How To Spot It & How To Change It
  37. 17 Questions A Reader Needs To Ask To Become A Better Writer
  38. January Writing Prompts
  39. Flip Your Characters To Twist A Plot
  40. All You Need To Know About Punctuating And Formatting Dialogue
  41. Why Adverbs Are The Tequila Of Writing Dialogue
  42. 7 Writing Tips From Roald Dahl

In the Past


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7 Useful Lists To Help You Create A Character

Are you looking for a creative writing exercise to share with your students or your writing group? Use this infographic as a quick fix to help beginner writers create more rounded characters.

Lists are one of the most useful prompts for writers to use as a starting point. I suggest that you start with a list of five items for each list. Use each list for a different exercise. 

Example: Use the 'Dreams List' to create a scene where the character thinks about what she still wants to achieve. Let her think about these things as she performs a mundane task.

If you are looking for more detailed ways of creating a character, read The Only Character Questionnaire You Need to Complete and 127 Prompts To Finish Before You Write About Yourself (Or Any Character)

Do you want a daily prompt?

Remember that you can send an email to with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to our mailing list.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

 by Amanda Patterson.  Follow her on  Facebook,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Simplify Your Writing - Avoid These 44 Overused Words & Phrases

Writing simply and clearly is essential in business, or any, writing. We write sentences to convey messages. If we want to communicate, we need to keep them short. We should avoid verbiage by using mostly verbs and nouns and by not using empty phrases and meaningless words like those in the Infographic. 

Avoid using words to fill up space. Modifiers, qualifiers, and intensifiers (very, almost, nearly, quite) add nothing to our writing. Unnecessary adjectives and adverbs clutter up the page and put our readers to sleep. 

We should also avoid using big words and empty phrases because we think they makes us sound clever. Redundancy is also a problem. 

'A document does not have more value because it is longer. Repeating information does not make it more important. Using jargon does not make the message more significant.' (Source: 3 Ways To Write In Plain Language)

Here are 44 overused words and phrases to avoid when you write.

Source for Infographic: Grammar Check

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme

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5 Tips For Writing Vivid Fiction From Edgar Allan Poe

'How many good books suffer neglect through the inefficiency of their beginnings!' ~Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor, and literary critic. He was one of the first American short story writers. He is known as the inventor of the detective fiction genre, and for contributing to the emerging science fiction genre. 

Poe was ahead of his time in his writing. Born on 19 January 1809, he understood that less is more. He had a critical plan for each piece that he wrote. In his essay, ‘The Philosophy of Composition’, he explains the elements that make up a good story. 

Poe takes us through the creation of his poem, 'The Raven'. He says he selected this well-known work to show that nothing is in it by accident. He writes '...that the work proceeded, step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem.'

5 Lessons I Learnt From Reading Poe's Analysis

  1. The work should have a vivid, original effect. He writes ‘Of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?' He says that tone and incident should be worked together to have the desired effect on the reader, 'whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity both of incident and tone'.
  2. Do not overwrite. To have the desired effect, it should be read in one sitting. He says, 'if any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression.' Obviously, novels do not necessarily fit this rule, but he believed this was essential for effect. Perhaps our modern unputdownable novels with shorter chapters have the same effect on the reader. The ideal length for a poem, he says, is one hundred lines.
  3. Know the ending before you begin. He believes you need to know this to be able to plot effectively. He says, 'Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.' I agree with this. Read 7 Extremely Good Reasons To Write The Ending First and 5 Really Good Reasons To Outline Your Novel - before you write a word.
  4. Choose a setting that works for the story. Poe first decides what he wants to say in the poem, or rather what he wants the characters to say, and only once that is in place, does he decide where to set the poem. He says he needed to bring the lover and the Raven together in a specific way, '— and the first branch of this consideration was the locale. For this the most natural suggestion might seem to be a forest, or the fields — but it has always appeared to me that a close circumscription of space is absolutely necessary to the effect of insulated incident: — it has the force of a frame to a picture.'
  5. The tone should reflect the theme. He says the choice to allow the raven, a bird of ill omen to repeat one word, 'Nevermore',  in a monotonous, melancholy tone at the end of each stanza allowed him to ask: 'Of all melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy? Death — was the obvious reply.' The melancholy tone echoes the theme of death.

Follow the link if you want to read the complete essay and follow this link to read a selection of Edgar Allan Poe quotes.

Happy writing.

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  Pinterest,  and  Twitter.

If you enjoyed this, you will love:

  1. e.e. cummings - on being nobody-but-yourself
  2. 7 Writing Tips From Roald Dahl
  3. The Man With The Golden Pen — 5 Writing Secrets From Ian Fleming
  4. 6 Things Alfred Hitchcock Can Teach You About Writing
  5. 10 Elementary Tips For Writers From Sherlock Holmes
  6. 6 Lessons From Jane Austen's Novels - On Love, Life & Writing
  7. 17 Things You Probably Never Knew About Arthur Conan Doyle


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What Exactly Is A Short Story And How Do I Know If I Am Writing One?

I hope you are enjoying the prompt for your first short story. Remember it is due on 15 February 2017. 

You can find the previous post and the prompt instructions here: 10 Awesome Reasons For Writing Short Stories. This week I will be discussing some theory.

What exactly makes a short story a short story? 

The answer is simple, according to Google, and comes down to word count:

I don’t exactly agree that a novelette must be light, romantic or sentimental. It may just be that it is more common in the romance genre, so please don’t limit yourself. 

A novel is 40 000 or more, but I’m just going to deal with the shorts in this series. In the months to come we will be experimenting with different lengths. Some stories will be typical short stories, others flash fiction, and some will be longer. 

How do I know which one I am writing? 
When I start writing a short story I ignore the word count. I simply use the prompt and I write. The ideas come out of that. Sometimes I have a cool idea, but I don’t reach 1000 words when I need 3000 words, for example. There are times when you can stretch and add scenes, but that depends on your story. 

Sometimes you’ll have to bomb the story if your word count doesn’t work out, but save it, because you can use it for something else if you love it. We’ll discuss expanding and reducing in detail in a later post. Don’t get hung up on your word counts before you start. Just write and explore your story, it will seem stilted or contrived otherwise. You can hammer it into shape later.
The most important part of this post I want you to keep in mind is the description of the short story: a fully developed theme. The word count might be reduced, but that doesn’t mean we want less story. It is still a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Happy Short Story Writing.

If you are interested in learning how to improve your creative writing skills, join us for Writers Write - How To Write A Book. If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts

 by Mia Botha

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

The Rise And Fall - 13 Social Media Trends To Watch In 2017

Don't panic. Social media is not going anywhere. Last year I looked at blogging trends for 2016. I believe that most of these will hold for 2017. This year, I want to look at some social media trends that are rising and others that are falling.

Money spent on social media marketing grew 55% to $10.9 billion between 2014 and 2015. It is estimated that it will reach $14 billion in 2018. (Source: Mediakix) This is not surprising with the number of people using social media.

How Many People Are On Social Media In 2017?

The key statistics for digital, social, and mobile media in 2016 are: 
  • 3.42 billion internet users, equalling 46% global penetration
  • 2.31 billion social media users, delivering 31% global penetration
  • 3.79 billion unique mobile users, representing 51% global penetration
  • 1.97 billion mobile social media users, equating to 27% global penetration
Source: We Are Social: Digital In 2016. Visit this site to see how social media is growing across the globe.

The Rise And Fall - 13 Social Media Trends in 2017

When asked to choose only one social media platform, most businesses chose Facebook.

  1. Social media giants will rise. It is impossible to do business online without filtering your information through these sites first. The giants of 2017 for business are Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Your content has to be brilliant so that the platform’s filters share it and followers see it. Facebook especially will become even more powerful. It is the most important platform and more than 60% of businesses have plans to increase their exposure on Facebook and YouTube. Source: Social Media Examiner from Social Media Marketing Industry Report. (Download a version here)

  2. Twitter will continue to struggle. Twitter is trying to reinvent itself as the number one source for news. 'Twitter has refocused. It’s no longer a social network, it’s a news product.' (Source) For this to become more successful, it will have to solve harassment issues and deal with fake news. Twitter fatigue is real. (Source)

  3. Video will rise. Video has become essential. 60% of marketers use video and 73% plan to increase their use of video, including live video. A YouTube channel becomes even more attractive when you know that YouTube has paid out $2 billion to users as of July 2016 (YouTube). 

  4. Content marketing will continue to rise. Information in the form of well-written articles using storytelling techniques becomes more important each year. (Source) Social media sites will try to encourage people to blog directly on the platform. This may seem like a good idea, but I think it is better to keep your options open. Post on the site, but link to your content as well. Have you ever been blocked by Facebook? You need to have some control over your content. [Read 5 Things You Need To Know About Content Marketing]

  5. Organic social media growth will fall. Being there is the first step. Now that you're there, you have to have a plan to stay in the limelight. These 6 studies show why this is happening. Use targeted marketing social media tools on the big platforms to reach your audience. You will also have to budget for paid reach.

  6. Social media advertising will rise. You will have to budget for advertising on social media. Identify the platform you want to use and find out how to do this. Facebook is the best place to start. 86% of social marketers regularly use Facebook ads, while only 18% use Twitter ads. Facebook advertising is easy to use if you are a beginner. Facebook has over three million active advertisers, and more than 70% of these are from outside America. (Facebook). 

  7. Fake news will fall. It may be too late for some, but the fight back is beginning. After Oxford dictionary decided that ‘post-truth’ was its word of the year, we knew we had reached rock bottom. Facebook is putting measures in place to filter the nonsense people are presenting as facts.Twitter will have to find a way to combat this as well. In South Africa, we need to stop abusive trolls that other users call 'Paid Twitter'. Google will have to look at its algorithm as fake news sites benefit from the sheer volume of traffic they create.

  8. The importance of trustworthiness will rise. You will have to make triple sure that your facts are correct. People are getting tired of lies and it could be bad for business if you inadvertently slip up. This means you need to verify what you are sharing. It also means that you must research anything you write in a blog post. Earning this trust will be the key to selling your products. 

  9. Social messaging will rise. WhatsApp, an SMS replacement app recently crossed the one billion user mark. Businesses will be able to use these messaging apps to interact with some customers, especially the younger generation. Use this for customer queries and complaints. Doctors in Brazil use WhatsApp to contact patients. (Source for graph: Dreamgrow)

  10. Marketing posts will fall. People will become more averse to content that is designed to sell. Search engines will also become more intolerant of this. Do not try to disguise an advertisement or a press release as information.  Invest in learning how to create proper content, or in employing somebody to do it for you. [Read 40 Types Of Content That Will Make Blogging Easier For You]

  11. Email newsletters will rise. The effectiveness of email marketing increased in 2016. Email newsletters became more interactive and setting up of email lists became more user-friendly. Use an email marketing service such as Mailchimp to create your newsletters and maintain your mailing list. Email newsletters will become even more targeted and personalised in 2017. (Source: Business2Community

  12. Push advertising will continue to fall. More people than ever are using ad blockers to prevent unwanted advertising. Don't force banners, pop-ups, paid ads, and pop-unders on your audience when they visit your blog.

  13. The power of social media influencers will continue to rise. Your goal on social media is to get people to notice you and to talk about you. You have to be everywhere. Jeff Bullas says 'As the noise increases online... , the influencer and thought leaders who have built reach globally are the new niche gatekeepers. Brands are now paying to reach their admirers and devotees.' 

Which of these trends do you think will change our world in 2017?

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 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting 

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Short Story Challenge – 10 Awesome Reasons For Writing Short Stories

You are invited to a short story writing challenge...

I have been writing a lot of short stories lately and I have been having so much fun. So, I have decided to make it a year-long project. I am going to write one short story per month. Do you want to join me?

Why short stories?

Because they’re awesome, but also because:
  1. You can hone your craft: A short story is the perfect place to practise and to hone your craft. We all have strengths and weaknesses as writers. Some writers excel at dialogue, but suck at setting and description or their plots rock, but their characters are flat and predictable. A short story offers us the opportunity to improve our weaknesses and have fun with our strengths.

  2. There is less pressure: When we write novels, we need to keep our wits about us. We need 60 coherent scenes, in the correct order that shows us the story. With a short story there is less pressure.

  3. Your prompts can be published: Every writer needs to practise and a daily prompt is great, but when you turn that prompt into a short story you have something to enter, publish or stick up on the fridge. Prompts tend to remain in our notebooks; short stories become something you can use. Don’t stop with the prompts though. They help you find ideas. 

  4. They give you a break: Writing a novel is as challenging as it is thrilling. There are times when the words flow and the story works, then there are times when they don’t. That is when you write a short story.

  5. The reduced word count makes you work hard: Novels have space, short stories don’t. If you over write, this is a great way to shorten and strengthen your writing. When you must count, and evaluate each word, it changes the way you write. 

  6. They give you deadlines: There are hundreds, if not thousands of short story competitions. Use them to work towards your goals and deadlines.

  7. They are good for setting short-term goals: When we write novels, they can take months or even years. Short stories offer an opportunity to set short-term goals to keep us motivated and invigorated for the long-term goal achievement. 

  8. You can deal with back-story: Writing short stories is a great way of getting to know your characters. Put them into a situation that you haven’t thought of before or that isn’t included in your book and see what they get up to. Or write that important event in their childhood that shaped them and changed their lives. You won’t necessarily use it, but it’s a great way to layer and explore character.

  9. You can experiment: This is my favourite part about writing short stories. If you always write in third person, try first or even second person. If you have never written fantasy, give it a go. If a scene from your novel isn’t working, change characters and write it as a short story from another character’s point of view. 

  10. They allow you to brainstorm: Use a short story to explore a theme or an alternative ending to your scene or story. Change viewpoint, gender or genre. There are no rules. The short story is a brilliant tool. Use it.
I hope that I have convinced you that short stories are valuable. It would be awesome if you would like to join me for this adventure.

How it will work:

  1. I’ll be writing a series of posts about the craft of short story writing. These will be published once a week, on a Wednesday(mostly).
  2. On the second last Wednesday of every month I’ll post the next prompt and my short story. That gives you roughly four weeks to write your story. 
  3. You will be welcome to share your story, as well as comment on each other’s stories.
  4. The word counts will vary every month, but more about that next week. 
  5. The goal is to have 12 short stories at the end of the year and a seriously improved skill set.
Please remember: This is not a competition. It’s about discipline, productivity and learning. Not all my stories will be great, but they will, at least be written. 

The Prompt: 

Our first prompt is: The List. 
Word count: 1500 words.
Deadline: 15 February 2017. Post your story as a comment on my short story post on that day. 

NOTE: Some competition rules state that stories must be ‘previously unpublished’. Don’t share your story if you do not want it published or if you are planning on using it for a competition.  

Look out for my next post on short stories: What Exactly Is A Short Story?

If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts

 by Mia Botha

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Use Your Antagonist To Define Your Story Goal

If you want to write a book, you have to keep your characters busy. You need to give them something to do. Presenting them with a tangible threat, giving them a reason to overcome it, and allowing them a way out, will give them a physical story goal.

As Chuck Palahniuk says: 'One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.'

The easiest way to define your protagonist’s story goal is to determine your antagonist’s physical story goal. The two will be in conflict with each other. 

It is often easier to give your antagonist a physical goal. It is also easier for us to assign base story goals to villains than to assign them to our heroes. If you understand this, we can use it to your advantage. 

Remember, to define a physical story goal a character needs: 
  1. to get something physical
  2. to cause something physical
  3. to escape something physical
  4. to resolve something physical
  5. to survive something physical
The pursuit of the physical goal is the road map your character needs to follow to achieve his or her abstract story goal. [Read The Story Goal - The Key To Creating A Solid Plot Structure]
Let's look at this example of a physical goal from Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
The antagonist's physical story goal: The constable wants to find, and kill, Danny Angel because Danny mistakenly killed his girlfriend, Injun Jane. The constable wants to cause something physical – Danny’s death.
The protagonist's physical story goal: Danny wants to physically move away from the constable and survive. He wants to live, and write books. Danny wants to escape something physical – The constable killing him.
When the constable finally tracks him down, Danny kills him. The constable therefore fails to achieve his story goal.  Danny achieves his story goal. When the antagonist does not achieve his physical goal, the story ends. 

Let's look at the abstract goal from Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
The antagonist's abstract story goal: The constable wants revenge.
The protagonist's abstract story goal: Danny Angel wants to be free to live a normal life.
When the constable fails to kill Danny, he does not get his revenge. He does not achieve his abstract story goal. When Danny survives, he is able to confess his part in the accident, and go on to live ‘a normal life’. He achieves his abstract story goal as a result of his actions.
The physical goal is always the most important for the purposes of plotting and writing your book. Never forget this. Without the constant tension created by this physical goal , it is difficult to sustain momentum in your story. Chasing an abstract goal is as absurd as fighting a war on 'terror'. 

If you apply this rule to your own life, you will find that you achieve your abstract goals. For example, if you want to become a success in the publishing industry (abstract goal), you will first have to write many books (physical goal). 

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

 by Amanda Patterson.  Follow her on  Facebook,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

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10 Tips To Help You Write More Effective Emails

I write about emails frequently because business is mostly conducted via email. Telephone calls, meetings, and text messaging are part of the way we communicate, but the bulk of what we say and what we ask happens via our inboxes. 

So, it seems like a good idea to write an email etiquette refresher for my first business writing post of 2017.

We write emails to: 
  1. Provide information
  2. Answer queries
  3. Ask for information
  4. Build relationships
  5. Deliver reports
  6. Submit proposals
  7. Make offers
If we communicate clearly and simply, we have a better chance of getting the response we want.

Here are 10 tips to help you write effective emails.

1.    Send it to the correct person
Are you sure that the recipient wants or needs to get your correspondence? Is he or she the correct person to contact? If you are certain, make sure that you spell their name correctly.
2.    Dear Sir or Madam
Do not use archaic overly formal language. Use a respectful, cordial greeting and salutation. Make sure your tone is correct for the subject and recipient.
Dear Dan
Kind regards
3.    The subject line must tell us what the email covers
Do not leave this empty. It shows an immaturity in business and spam filters are likely to send it to junk mail. Use the subject line to indicate clearly what you want from the email. Are you advertising an event, sending an update, asking a question, setting a deadline, or requesting information? Whatever it is, make it clear. [Read The 12 Worst Mistakes People Make In Email Subject Lines]
Example: Short Story Course – Take advantage of our discount
4.    Write in your own voice
Write the way you would speak. Use a conversational tone and allow your personality to come through. People will see through your ‘business persona’ and your affectation will alienate them. [Read But How Did The Email Make You Feel?] Do not use big words and complex, convoluted sentence structures.
Do not say: We require your consumer-related data for the course at this point in time.
Do say: We need your registration information now.
5.    Start at the end
Start your email with the reason for writing. Do not build up to it. You are not writing a suspense novel. We don’t have time to wade through your history, your resume and anything else you include. We need to decide if the email is of interest to us.
Example: Writers Write is offering a discount on the course you’re interested in attending.
6.    Ask a question
Before we write the email we should be clear about what we want to achieve. Be specific. Be confident without being arrogant.
Example: Would you like to take advantage of our offer?
7.    Less is more
Be brief. Be courteous. Your email should not be longer than 250 words. Keep it as short as possible without sacrificing important information. One way to get this right is by using the five Ws and the one H to make sure you cover the facts.
Where: Provide the venue
When: Give the date of the course
How much: Provide details of the discount
Why: Tell the reader why it’s a great deal
Who: Provide (brief) details of who will be facilitating
What: Include what you will we cover on the course
8.    Include a deadline
We need to be clear about when we need the response.
Example: This offer is valid until 23 December 2016. If you want to take advantage, please book before that date.
9.    Make us care
Show readers why this is of interest to them. Why should they spend time on our request? Know your audience. Don’t waste time with frivolous requests.
Example: We are making this offer because you asked us to alert you about new dates.
10.  Do not harass the recipient
Once we’ve sent the email, detailed our reason for sending it, and given a deadline, we have done what we can. If you require an urgent response, send one reminder email to make sure the recipient is aware of the importance. After that, leave them alone.

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

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The Top 3 Emotional Responses That Make People Share On Social Media

If you blog, you want people to share your content. You want to reach as many people as possible. Having an informative, vivid, accessible presence on the internet is crucial for the success of your business in 2017. 

Last year I wrote about The 18 Responses You Need For Content To Go Viral. Your audience shares content when it affects them in a certain way and they are more likely to share positive than negative content.

BuzzSumo narrowed it down even further. They analysed the social share counts of more than 100 million articles to find out why people share. This is what they learnt.

After looking at the top 10 000 most shared articles across the web, they mapped each one to an emotion, such as joy, sadness, anger, and amusement. This is what the breakdown of emotional responses looked like:

The three most popular emotional reasons for sharing were:
  1. Awe (25%)
  2. Laughter (17%)
  3. Amusement (15%)

They say: 'The differences between laughter and amusement were blurry at times, but we define amusement as being entertained, and not laugh out loud funny.'

The least popular were sadness and anger, which made up 7%.

In summary, they came up with these 10 criteria if you want to create viral content. You should:

  1. Inspire awe, laughter, or amusement.
  2. Appeal to people’s narcissistic side (BuzzFeed quizzes are an example).
  3. Provide long-form content because it has less competition, and more shares on average.
  4. Use list posts and infographics as they are more likely to be shared.
  5. Make sure your article inspires trust. Have a byline and a biography. Make sure you have a professional logo and design as well.
  6. Mix text with visually appealing elements.
  7. Implement social metadata such as the Facebook preview image.
  8. Reach out to influencers before you write your content.
  9. Promote your article for a week after it’s been published.
  10. Post on a Tuesday. It is the best day to publish and promote content. 

Their findings are interesting and it is well worth reading the full article: What Analysing 100 Million Articles Taught Us

If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media, join us for  The Complete Blogging and Social Media Course