Great content not only shares useful information but does so in a persuasive and engaging way. That’s why even the most informative articles will struggle to perform well if it doesn’t engage readers and hold their attention.
As a writer, it’s your role to grab readers and not let them go.
So how do you make your writing pop? Here are 11 techniques to add more punch to your writing.
1. Get to the Point
Don’t make it hard work for readers; long, rambling sentences will make even the most alert readers fall asleep. Be succinct. Get your main message across in the first paragraph, and when you edit, cut out any repetition of words or ideas.
2. Stick to One Topic
When a story drones on or goes off topic, it can be easy to lose interest. It’s the same with written content. Introducing too many new ideas throughout a piece leads to boredom and confusion. If you have lots of ideas, save them for another article. Making an outline before hand can help keep your article on track.
3. Vary Sentence Lengths
Variation keeps the reader alert. Make some sentences short. Others can be longer to move the reader along, but be sure to mix it up so it feels conversational. Use colons and semicolons to give your sentences more flow; if you’re unsure how to use them, cut a long sentence into two separate sentences.
And try writing some paragraphs with one sentence only.
4. Format for Clarity
Use shorter paragraphs, subheadings, italics, and bullet points to make your writing more visually appealing.
- Variation of text interrupts the reader visually.
- It keeps readers engaged for longer.
- It makes your content easier to scan.
If you’re looking to learn more about this topic, check out these 6 exercises to improve your writing clarity.
5. Use Contractions
A contraction is a simple device that puts fewer letters in front of the reader and makes your writing flow. “You’re,” “isn’t,” haven’t,” “won’t,” “aren’t,” and “they’re” are all common contractions. Use them when it sounds natural; don’t stuff your writing full of them.
6. Get Active
Passive voice sentences often use more words and sound vague. The emphasis is on the object of the sentence, or the thing that is acted upon:
An article was written by Jane.
Use the active voice when possible; sentences flow better and are easier to understand. Active voice places the emphasis on the subject of the sentence:
Jane wrote an article.
7. Cut Out Unnecessary Words and Jargon
Removing literally all unnecessary words will really make your writing more readable. In the final stages of editing, find words to cut. This helps improve sentence flow, reduces the word count, and looks more professional.
Here are some common “filler” words: every, totally, completely, absolutely, literally, just, very, definitely, actually, basically.
If you can remove words without altering the meaning or clarity of the sentence, do it. Readers soon lose interest if they have to read long words, clichés, or business jargon. Be more expressive instead.
8. Use Expressive Language
Be human. When readers like you, they’re more likely to keep reading. Try the following to make your writing more expressive, emotional, and convincing:
- Choose topics that you’re passionate about.
- Write as if you’re talking to a friend.
- Be specific. Say “brown-eared beagle called Lucy,” not just “dog.”
- Use stories to make readers visualize topics.
- Express your opinions, if it’s not off-brand.
- Use metaphors and similes.
- Use personal stories to connect with the reader.
9. Remove Redundant Phrases
Redundant phrases make your writing limp and unprofessional. Here are a few examples:
At the present time. Simply say: “at present,” or “at this time.”
Totally unique. Something is either unique or it isn’t.
Unintended mistake. A mistake is by nature unintended.
Join together. There’s no need for “together.”
Postpone until later. “Until later” is superfluous.
7 p.m. in the evening. “7 p.m.” is specific enough.
Unexpected surprise. No surprise is expected.
10. Use Stronger Verbs and Adjectives
Many verbs can weaken writing. For example:
Jane went to an evening class to find out if she could make her writing better.
To make this sentence clearer and reduce the word count, use stronger verbs:
Jane attended an evening class to discover if she could improve her writing.
The same goes for adjectives. Get rid of wishy-washy sentences like:
Jane was really bad at grammar, so she was happy to have a very intelligent teacher. Try this instead:
Jane was terrible at grammar, so she was thrilled to have a brilliant teacher.
11. Add Flair with Adverbs
Adverbs describe other parts of a sentence. Many experts suggest eliminating adverbs altogether, but this is too simplistic. Adverbs used in an unexpected way, or which subvert the meaning of verbs, can add color and hidden depth to writing.
For example: Jane’s writing is quietly effective. Her subtle references gently knock you out.
The trick is to only use adverbs when they add more meaning to your ideas.
Great Writing Takes Time
It’s easy to fall into the trap of lazy writing, but it will only result in weak content. When you edit, remember these techniques. Go over every sentence and every word. Write with passion. Be unforgettable. You’ll make readers happy and probably get more requests for work.
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