Write better and clearer with these simple tips

(ED: Mei-Anne is a well published content creator who is published in major publications in Singapore and Aotearoa. So she’s really the best person to write about, well, writing. If you are a business owner, at some stage you’re going to have to use words to communicate – so this one is for you!)

As a “professional writer”, I do write a lot. Sometimes I get it write—I mean—right! And sometimes… Well, you get the point.

However, I know that if you are willing to put in the effort, anyone can make their written word better and more effective.

Here’s a breakdown of some simple strategies I’ve employed over the years to make my prose better and clearer, which you too can copy (no pun intended) (ED: copy-write? Haha. I’m sorry.):

Start your writing Strong

A picture of comic Sam looking at a laptop. Out of the laptop, two big strong arms are reach out and grab Comic Sam's face. Comic Sam says:
I can't look away... this writing is too strong...

Every day, around 4-7 million blog posts are published online. And that doesn’t even take into account the amount of media releases, scholarly articles and other forms of writing out there. So, how can your copy stand out in this tower of text?

Well, whatever you’re writing—whether it’s an ad campaign or e-newsletter—you need to hook the reader and make them want to read more. You can do this by making your first sentence or paragraph more exciting. A common trick is stating the most surprising fact about the subject at the start; or share a personal story and establish a connection. Get creative and open strong.

Be Concise and Precise in your Writing

The picture shows  a printed letter to Ahmad the Intern. It is addressed to:
Ahmad Intern
123 Somewhere Ave
The Internet

It Says:

Dear Ahmad,

(the following paragraph has been struck out): It has been an honour to work alongside you these many years however we find that your performance, while admirable has not seen much improvement as of late. As such we have made the decision to relieve you of your duties effective immediately. Please note that we always value your contribution and wish you all the best in the future.

(after the struck off paragraph are three words)


Off-screen, Ahmad says: That's... Concise...

Shorter and precise phrases make your text easier to read. Longer phrases, while technically accurate, may muddy up your point. Unnecessary words can also bore the reader.

Shorter and precise phrases make your text easier to read. Longer phrases, while technically accurate, may muddy up your point. Unnecessary words can also bore the reader.

If possible, get your point across in 10 words. That sentence was 9 words, by the way. To keep your communication short and to the point, use specific words. For example, rather than “a couple of people”, use “two people.”

Use Comma(n) Grammar Sense

The picture shows a Panda holding a smoking gun, chewing on a bamboo shoot in a cafe. Hiding behind the cash register counter are Ahmad the Intern and a blond haired lady in a pink apron, her name is Kieran the millenial Karen. She says to Ahmad:

You said that he'd eat shoots and leaves NOT EAT, ShOOTS, AND LEAVES!

Everybody makes mistakes, including good writers. Spotting and fixing common grammar errors is definitely a good step to becoming a better writer. From singulars and plurals to verb tense and other things that make you tense, it’s worth doing some simple exercises to familiarise yourself with the English language.

A common error I’ve come across in many Kiwi publications is the overlooked and lack of comma use. Commas can be tricky. But I think it’s important to know when to use a comma, particularly when joining two independent clauses with a conjunction or after introductory phrases. Simply put, a comma helps a sentence make sense. Similar to how a person’s voice might pause or change in pitch when talking, a comma signals readers to a quick pause or shift in tone.

Basically, the best way to improve your writing—whether you like to write or not—is to pay attention! While that may sound overly simple, it’s true. Spend time reading and reviewing your work, even if it’s a simple email. Make sure you start strong, use concise and clear phrases, and stop writing when you’ve made your point. Oh, and please remember to use commas. Thanks for coming to my TED The Comic Accountant talk.

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