You are the center of the universe

It’s about the reader and only the reader. Use “you” in your text to give the reader ownership of your product or service, or the ideas you are putting forward.

You are the center of the universe. That is because you are the reader right now. As long as you keep reading, you are the center of the universe. Everything in this article is about you, because if you stop reading, I would just be writing in an echo chamber.

On your blog, “you” is also the center of the universe. But on your blog, you are not the “you”. You are just the writer; your readers are the all-important “you”.

If this sounds confusing, consider first why people come to your blog or website. There are several possible reasons: [Read more…]

Clarity – the key to effective writing

If you are writing non-fiction, clarity counts most. Here are four tips to write clearly.

Before sharing my incredibly useful tips with you, I must begin with two huge caveats.

First, fiction is not like non-fiction. In fiction, the mood is sometimes more important than the facts. But even in fiction, clarity counts. If your readers can’t follow the story well enough, they will get discouraged.

And, even hitting just the right mood, your story will fall flat if they just don’t get it. [Read more…]

14 useless words to throw away

Sometimes we throw in words that add nothing to the meaning. They make it harder to read your article, book or report. Here are some words you can throw away.

Go straight to the Infographic

Available

This word gets thrown into sentences all the time. Here are two ways it is thrown in for no good reason:

  • “This report is available with…” No, no, no. Instead, you can say “This report has…”. It’s much shorter and to the point.
  • “The line staff processed the available documents.” Hold on…they processed only the available ones? Really? Why didn’t they also process the unavailable ones? You see, there is no reason to specify that they processed the available documents.

Throw it away! [Read more…]

Making readability studies readable

Readability is in crisis. Even the abstracts from studies on readability are virtually incomprehensible. Let’s see what they really say.

What is readability? It’s a measure of how easy a text is to read. For example, how easy is it to read a blog post or white paper you wrote?

Readability is most commonly measured in grade levels. The average person reads in the range of Grade 6 to Grade 8. This might shock you. You’ve had 12 grades of education. Or you’ve had 15 or even 20. But you still read at a Grade 8 level or lower. Yes, you can read at a higher level, but you would do so only when you have to. Why is this?

[Read more…]

5 challenges you face as a writer

The survey results are in! Here are the top challenges writers face, and how some of those lead to hiring a ghostwriter.

We are often approached by people who can’t start writing their book or can’t finish it. Those are two of the biggest reasons people hire a freelance writing service like ours.

Bridget McNulty at NowNovel took a survey of her readers to find out what the five biggest writing challenges are. Here are the results she reported: [Read more…]

The Writer’s Guide to Time Travel

Any writer can travel in time, but to do it well takes effort…and a plan. Here is your plan to write convincing historical fiction or non-fiction.

Jenna Coleman did it.  You can, too.

Jenna played the role of The Doctor’s companion, first as Oswin Oswald, then as Clara Oswin Oswald and finally flying off in the Tardis as Clara Oswald for three seasons.

After all that time travel to shake her up, you’d think she would be eager to plant her feet firmly in her own time. But, no, she went straight back to the mid 1800s, playing Queen Victoria in Victoria. [Read more…]

5 lessons from America’s greatest ghostwriter

Alexander Hamilton was America’s greatest ghostwriter. Here are five lessons he leaves us, with quotes from the musical that bears his name.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius of a writer, taking the fairly base form of entertainment that hip-hop is and elevating it to artistic grandeur. Hamilton: An American Musical contains layers of meaning, and pulls people into the story of America’s greatest ghostwriter.

What? You thought Hamilton was a banker? Or a politician? Or a lawyer? [Read more…]

The most abused word in the English language

Some words in the English language take a whipping every day. Here is my pick for the most abused word in the English language.

Pop quiz time. Please read the following four sentences and tell me what’s wrong with them:

  • He only ate the green peppers.
  • They only had ten minutes to get there.
  • She only wants a few firecrackers.
  • We only ate a dozen hamburgers.

“Only” is a word with an unspoken implication – that there are many possibilities, but all are false except one. [Read more…]

Write for your audience (5 sneaky hiring ads)

When you really need talent, you can find a creative way to write for your audience. Here are five superb examples of uber-targeted communications.

A friend of mine implored me to fire up The Guardian on my laptop a few days ago, so that I could see a hiring ad.

“Where?” I asked.

“Go there,” he said, pointing to “UK news”.

Puzzled, I clicked on “UK News”. [Read more…]

Top 10 most common business grammar errors

The Grammar Monster doesn’t like what he sees in business documents. Let’s publicly flog the worst offenders.

I edit a lot of business documents, from blog posts to case studies, from book manuscripts to press releases. It’s funny how the same errors repeat themselves from document to document, from client to client. Here are some of those I see the most. [Read more…]