Monday, March 20, 2017

Your Best Writing May Not Be What You Think By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

One of the biggest writing problems I see among people in my mentoring
program, and others who hire me to improve their writing, is that they're
afraid to write like they talk.

They never use one-word sentences.

They refuse to start sentences with words such as "and" and "but" because an elementary teacher way back when told them not to.

They try to sound important when they write. So they use long words in long sentences that make up long paragraphs.

They remove all slang from their writing so it's clean and pure. And
often, boring.

Business coach Michael Angier agrees.

"Too many times, I see people who are good verbal communicators try to put
on a different air in their writing," he says. "It doesn't work. It's much
better to be conversational."

Writing like you talk is one of 13 tips Michael offers for writing clearly
and convincingly. It was one of the lead articles in an issue of
Joan Stewart's free subscription newsletter, The Publicity Hound.
Nina Amir's book, Wired for Story (, shows us how humans from times long before writing were storytellers and how we are indeed "wired for story." We also call it anecdote. It works for articles like this. It works for novels—great novels. And you'll see it appearing more and more often as part of news stories. Another book I recommend is Tom Chiarella's Writing Dialogue ( published by Writer's Digest. You may find it inexpensively on Amazon's New and Used feature.
In the newest book in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writing, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically, I remind authors that the best blurbs and endorsements come from people who compliment their books and their style in off-the-cuff conversations. When asked to write a blurb or endorsement, their language becomes stiff, official—and unconvincing. I tell them to ask their contacts if they can use what their reader just said to them rather than having them back up and make it into a brittle, lifeless twig.

When authors keep in mind that their readers probably spent many years reading staid textbooks and prefer to learn what they need quickly, they'll find that their readers bond to them. To matter the genre or kind of copy, connection is an important word to consider. Think loyalty. Think bonding. It isn't more important, but think retention, too!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Her blog, lets authors recycle their favorite reviews absolutely free.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Multi award-winning novelist, poet, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.
Web site:
Twitter: @FrugalBookPromo
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing with your peeps, Linda! I forgot to mention that using stilted language is even worse when we write dialogue for our characters . . . unless that character is, say, a pedantic academic who might really talk that way. (-: