When I rewrite my drafts, sometimes I get impatient. I cross out filler words and clichés and still, the content is blah. The words I use are so boring that I’m easily distracted by our family cat, Coco, or the contractors pounding on the roof shingles of my neighbor’s house across the street. (Do they need to pound at 8 o’clock in the morning?)
BEEP! A notification chirps from your smartphone. You pull the phone out of your pocket, wipe your fingers on your cotton jeans and swipe the smooth screen to unlock. Tapping open the email app, then …
The emails clamor in your inbox. Each email is screaming at you. Look at me! Look at me! Read this now. Do this now. Emails are reminders of your unfinished tasks.
And your inbox is bursting. Continuously flooding with messages, the inbox is a cacophony that will never be silent.
When you acquiesce and scan the first email, trying to understand the long message on the little screen, do you wish the sender had written more words?
Probably not. You wanted the writer to be brief, concise and clear. Please get to the point, you beg.
All those ideas swimming in your head are finally on paper. The draft of the sales copy is saved in a file. You wrote your email. A chapter of the book has been written. You realize you’re not done, but it feels good to have completed the first draft.
Ready to make your copy 50 percent better? Thought I’d share some tips everybody can use to improve their writing today.
First, let’s take a look at two ways to describe a city’s landmark.
“The location is Western Australian. In the city center, just near a road, stood a monument about dead men and boys, some really young. A really hard time was had by them. It was a very long time before the community simply went back to a routine of school, work and marriage, but not seen by outsiders.”
Confused when reading the description? Already bored you to tears? Yes, it was mind-numbing to read.
Let’s see the description with exquisite detail. Read how M.L. Stedman portrayed the city’s landmark in her book, The Light Between Oceans, voted the Best Historical Novel by 1.5 million voters on Goodreads.
“… hard-bitten experiences that marked any West Australian town. In the middle of the handkerchief of grass near the main street stood the fresh granite obelisk listing the men and boys, some scarcely sixteen, who would not be coming back to plow the fields or fell the trees, would not be finishing their lessons, though many in the town held their breath, waiting for them anyway. Gradually, lives wove together once again into a practical sort of fabric in which every thread crossed and recrossed the others through school and work and marriage, embroidering connections invisible to those not from town.”
Now that’s an example of award-winning writing. How did she do that? We may not strive to win prizes for writing the best novel of the year — well, we may not all want to write a novel — but we can improve the writing we do, every day.