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Simple Tip #3 to Instantly Improve Your Writing

Photo: Aaron Burden

Photo: Aaron Burden

Winston Churchill said:

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”

It’s the same with technology. Think how your world has changed since laptops and smartphones have entered the scene.

I would argue that it’s the same with writing.

All writing is narrative of some form — whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, business writing, copywriting, journal writing, or a quick email.

Great writing can shape the audience.

Think of the books and writing that have had great influence, such as:

  • The Qur’an
  • The Bible
  • The Torah
  • The Meaning of Relativity
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  • The Republic

So how do you shape great writing so that it shapes your audience?

Flow can have a big impact. Flow can turn mediocre writing into great writing.

If you want your audience to read more than two sentences, you need to consider the flow or the cadence of the writing — the flow of the story, the flow of the argument, the flow of the pitch, the flow of the description.

I’m talking about flow of the content or message — NOT flow of the sentence or paragraph construction. That’s a separate topic.

Even a six-word story needs flow. Consider Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Powerful, right? Every couplet of words progresses the story in the reader’s mind. You could mix those couplets around, but the power is lost.

For example:

Baby shoes for sale, never worn. (Not quite as powerful)

Never-worn baby shoes for sale. (Awkward and a bit weak)

But the flow that Hemingway incorporated creates a cadence and drama that ends on a heart-wrenching emotion.

Simple Tip #3 to Instantly Improve Your Writing

Check the writing for flow.

Does it progress clearly?

Here’s how to check for flow:

  1. Step back after you have written the piece.
  2. As you read your work, form an outline in your mind of the story, the argument, the pitch, or the message that you have composed.
  3. If you notice that you are jumping around too much or are revisiting points you’ve already made, you can bet your reader will get confused or weary.
  4. Consolidate where you need to. Experiment with reordering the pieces.

BONUS TIP: Not all writing should be linear — even though it’s easiest for our minds to follow. This is especially true in fiction writing and storytelling. Meandering works, as long as the reader can follow.

Play with the positioning of the pieces to figure out which order has the strongest impact — like Hemingway did.

Investing the time to look at your work from a reader’s point of view is time well spent.

 

Sometimes You Need a Little Creativity Boost

My free eBook might just help:

5 Exercises that Will Make You 10 Times More Creative

I use these exercises to keep the juices flowing — in myself and in my clients. (I am a marketing consultant, after all.)

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Bryan Searing