This checklist will help you improve your writing skills. If you follow these guidelines, you will dramatically improve your readability statistics and your ability to communicate your message. This will help you in business writing, creative writing, and in blogging.
You will be able to write more accessible emails, reports, novels, speeches, short stories, and blog posts. In a world where we are bombarded with messages, we need to communicate complex ideas in the simplest way possible.
Writing problems occur when:
- You use jargon.
- You assume that you know more than your reader knows.
- Your writing is forced.
- Your sentences are (on average) longer than nine words. (This means some sentences will have 13 words and others will have two.)
- Your reader has to wade through unnecessary adverbs, adjectives, modifiers, and qualifiers.
- You use foreign words and unorthodox spelling.
- Your writing is old-fashioned.
- Your words are the longest you can find.
- Your words are (on average) more than four characters. (This means some words will have nine characters and others will have three.)
- You preach.
- Your sentence structure is repetitive. [Read The Importance Of Varying Sentence Length]
- Your reader feels as if you are using him as a sounding board for your pretensions to literary greatness.
- Your reader feels you are judging your subject matter.
- Your write (on average) more than three sentences per paragraph.
Writing successfully occurs when:
- You write in the active voice.
- You write in the simple past tense.
- You avoid long sentences.
- You avoid using unusual acronyms.
- You write in a clear, focused manner.
- You are precise.
- You do not explain too much.
- Your grammar is correct. [Read 9 Free Online Grammar Resources]
- The story flows as consecutive events occur when they should.
- You remove unnecessary similes and metaphors.
- You do not use pretentious or elaborate words. Sometimes, a thesaurus is a curse.
- You write in English and avoid using foreign words.
- You do not overwrite.
- The writing sounds natural when you read it aloud.
If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.