Is it possible to improve your writing instantly? The answer, happily, is “yes.”
While researching a book on famous speeches and essays, I found eight easily correctable mistakes writers often make. Here they are…and how to correct them instantly.
1. UNFOCUSED SUBJECT – Focus on a single theme only. Every sentence and paragraph should reinforce that topic.
2. TOO LONG – Abraham Lincoln crafted his Gettysburg Address in less than 300 words. Unless I’m specifically asked to do otherwise, I try to condense my work to one double-spaced single page (about 250 words).
3. WEAK PREMISE – Can you state the major focus of your message in 20 words or less?
4. NO ATTENTION-GRABBER – The first sentence or two must quickly attract the reader. Two ways to do this: (a) ask a question or (b) reveal a discovery.
5. UNLINKED PARAGRAPHS – Each paragraph should logically lead to the next. One way some writers do this: (a) quickly write several paragraphs on a subject; ((b) prioritize them; (c) present them in descending order from most important to least important; (d) conclude by restating the two or three most important points.
6. PASSIVE VERBS – Passive verbs like is, am, was, and were simply exist. Action verbs run, jump, excite, and motivate.
7. BORE FACTOR – Some research says the average adult attention span is only eight seconds. So it’s important to make your points convincingly, and end your paper powerfully.
8. WEAK ENDING – Exit your report like an experienced stage performer…leave your audience wanting more. Two ways to do this: (a) use a famous quote to reinforce your conclusion, or (b) give details showing the reader where to get more information on the subject. (Examples: your phone, fax, e-mail, etc.)