Five Basic Rules For Good Writing

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If you want your book or article to stand out it’s a good idea to keep five rules in mind. They are the hallmark of excellent writing.

  • Make it readable
  • Make it memorable
  • Make it sparkle
  • Make it personal
  • Make sure it has unity, coherence and originality

     What do I mean by readability? Any book can be read, but not all books are easy and enjoyable to read, and this is something you definitely want, and should strive for. In addition to ease of reading, your reader usually wants to learn something (in the case of non-fiction books), so you’ll also have to satisfy him in this respect. How do you make your book readable? First of all, make sure you write in a simple and straightforward manner, and that all sentences are clear and understandable after a single read. Second, give your reader variety; too much of the same thing and he (or she) will soon be lulled to sleep. This means variety in sentence length — short sentences mixed in with long ones — and variety in sentence structure. Third, avoid complex words; if you can replace any words with simpler ones, do it. And finally, avoid cliches and worn-out phrases.

     It’s also important to make your book as memorable as possible. You want your readers to think about it after they have read it, and perhaps recommend it to some of their friends. The best way to do this is to write about people and their problems. “But my article is on the history of refrigeration,” you say. Don’t worry; you can still talk about people; tell your reader about the people who made the improvements in refrigeration. In particular. talk about their struggles, setbacks, frustrations and successes. In essence this means you should include as many anecdotes and stories as possible. They are the things that keep the reader intrigued (as they say, they are the “icing on the cake”).

     Third on our list is: make it sparkle. You may have never heard of this one before. How do you make an article sparkle? What I mean by this is that you should add a little “pizzazz” to your article. In other words, you should add things that make your reader perk up every so often and perhaps chuckle or even laugh out loud. Some of the ways of doing this are:

  • By using exclamations and commands every so often
  • By asking questions and answering them
  • By using humor
  • By using incomplete sentences occasionally.

It’s important to point out, however, that you shouldn’t overdo any of these (except perhaps the humor part). If you do the effect will quickly be lost.

          A few other things that are helpful are:

  • Use strong verbs and avoid passive verbs
  • Repeat words and phrases occasionally for emphasis
  • Use metaphors and similes, but be careful that they are appropriate.

       Fourth we have “Be personal.” By this I mean: be friendly; write in a conversational way, and of most importance, be yourself. Use a friendly tone, but don’t be afraid to let your hair down and let your feelings show. If you have something on your mind, say so.

     Finally, unity, coherence and originality are critical. Make sure your article or book is unified; this means it should be unified in subject matter (don’t stray off the main topic), tone, tense, slant and so on. Any sudden changes will likely annoy the reader. And I don’t think I need to say much about originality; I’ll admit that it’s sometimes difficult to come up with something original (particularly when you are writing about popular topics such as health, relationships and fitness) and the best way around this is to give it a new “slant.”

     If you incorporate these five things into your next book or article I’m sure you’ll be surprised by how much it will be improved. For more on these topics see my book You Should Write a Book.

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Source by Barry R Parker