This article written by By Darren Gilbert resonated with me, so I simply had to share it. 

To strengthen your writing, you need to know your weaknesses. One way of doing that is to constantly review your work. Now, if you’re ashamed of your weaknesses, don’t be. There is no harm in admitting that your writing needs work. In fact, acknowledging any problem/s is a sign of strength.

In turn, admitting your problem is the first step to improving your writing. With that in mind, here are three things to look out for when writing your next piece. If you can identify any of them, it’s best to rectify them now.

Your sentences are too long

To capture the attention of your audience, you need to consider the length of your sentences. Now, that may sound silly but it’s true. After all, a short sentence gets to the point whereas a long one can often lose focus.

“As well, sentence length is often a ‘placeholder’ for other problems,” writes Daphne Gray-Grant, owner of The Publication Coach. “Are you unduly wordy? Do you have any misplaced modifiers? Are you sure your ‘sentence’ has a subject and predicate? All of these issues are easier to miss in long sentences.”

Now, don’t be afraid to edit your work. In fact, in admitting that you need to edit shows that you’re thinking about what is best. So, what is the ideal length? According to Gray-Grant, it’s an average of between 14 and 18 words.

Your writing has no direction

As mentioned about, if your sentences are too long, you can lose focus. If you lose focus, you lose your audience. When sitting down to write, you need to know what you are going to be writing about. In other words, it’s all about being clear.

“The more specific and clear you are about the events, places, and characters in your writing, the happier and more loyal your readers (and editors) will be,” writes Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, a blogger and freelancer writer. “Poorly written work often contains words and ideas that are nebulous and difficult to comprehend. To eliminate this sign of bad writing, be specific and concrete.”

The opposite of clear writing is vague writing. It’s a death knell for any writer and if you are flirting with it, stop now. Not only will you write better if you do but your readers will thank you for it too.

You ignore your reader

In practicing the two points above, you are actively ignoring your reader. Now there is more to the idea of ignoring your reader. It comes down to not putting yourself in their shoes when you write something. You need to think about how they will react to what you have written.

“As a writer, the greatest skill is to think about what the reader needs to hear, not what you need to say. It takes an imaginative leap,” writes Matthew Stibbe, CEO of Articulate and Turbine. “For example, Google says ‘Please read this carefully, it’s not the usual yada, yada.’ Microsoft says ‘This software is licensed under the agreement below.’ Which one is more likely to be read?”

The answer to that question is fairly simple. In writing any piece, write something that is reader-centric. After all, you need an audience.

Source: This article was published on 3 December 2014 on http://www.mediaupdate.co.za/?IDStory=72386


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