DOUG HALL, Jump Start Your Business BrainMost of us know someone like David. He’s quiet, capable and unassuming. He’s a skilled carpenter.
He's also one of the most effective factual writers I've known.
Why? David's writing is compact and precise. He uses a minimum number of words to convey a maximum amount of information.
His style is factual, not emotive. Key points and step-by-step processes are bulleted or numbered, logically sequenced and clearly described.
When I told him how much I enjoy his writing, he was speechless. He finally said, well, that's a first. All my life, I've been told the opposite.
His writing, he was told, was too spare, too direct, too concrete. To me, it was beautifully simple, the personification of less is more.
Many complex factors interact to contribute to effective written communications. At the macro level, the elements include structure, organization, logic, layout, presentation and that elusive quality, called writing style. At the micro level, the elements include sentence content and structure, grammar, word choice and punctuation.
Let’s concentrate on micro-level fundamentals and keep things simple. Pull out your latest memo or report. Evaluate each sentence or paragraph and determine whether it is:
1. Focused: Does it emphasize the central point? Is it direct? Targeted?
2. Active: Does it use strong verbs that show movement?
3. Specific: Are the words precise? Descriptive? Is there sufficient detail? Too much detail?
4. Tight: Has every unnecessary word or phrase been eliminated? Is it concise? Lean? Spare?
For each of the four factors, use a simple rating system (1 = poor; 5 = strong) to highlight specific strengths and weaknesses.
Fix the weaknesses and build on the strengths. As you work, remember Doug Hall's advice: say it straight, clear and overtly.
Do you want to write better now? Try this method.
It's simple. It's fast. It’s easy. And it works.
Before & After examples
Simple Still Works
The Humble Hyphen
Pesky Periods & Parentheses