The Write Stuff
January 2015 Volume 11 Issue 1
Write Like a Pro This Year
I believe professionals who realize how important it is to make a positive impression work hard to ensure their written communication is the best it can be. If one of your resolutions was to improve your writing skills, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Use a thesaurus. In the old days we relied on a large book—Roget’s Thesaurus—to look up synonyms. While the hard copy still exists, Roget’s is also available online, and a more accessible thesaurus is found in the Tools menu of Word. Add variety to your copy instead of relying on the same words over and over—but take care to only use words that sound like you.
- Live by less is more. Write with succinctness in mind—especially on your website and in social media. Aim to create simple and short sentences, and pared down paragraphs. Readers will appreciate your brevity.
- Get to the point. Business writing is much different than fiction writing. Novelists often provide “breadcrumbs” that lead to a surprising or unexpected conclusion. That style is not appropriate in the world of business, where your point needs to be made upfront, followed by information that supports it. Journalists live by the inverted pyramid, focusing on creating a “hook” that compels people to read further; you can do that, too.
There are plenty of resources available to assist you in your writing efforts: find them on the Internet, take a class or query a professional writer. I’m always happy to answer writing questions.
Congratulations to Joanie Connell, Ph.D., who has published her first book, Flying without a Helicopter: How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life. I was one of Joanie’s first editors, and am proud to be associated with such a wonderful book. One reviewer said it’s a must-read for leaders, managers, parents and educators, while another called it a mini-masterpiece. Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and 800 CEO Read.
As with a number of grammar rules, what to do when you need to show possession for a word that ends in an s is not cut and dried. Some experts say you should always use ‘s (e.g., business’s, Jones’s) while others say it’s fine to add only an apostrophe (e.g., Sharks’). I’m in the latter group—it just seems less “messy”—but I also try to write around those situations, i.e., use company instead of business when it’s necessary to show possession.
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