Writing well

Leadership Journal's guidelines for budding authors. The advice applies equally to bloggers, presenters and speakers.

Use action verbs Forms of the verb “to be”—is, was, were, etc., make for dead writing. In every possible case, pick forceful verbs.

Use anecdotes Each point in a Leadership article needs a carefully chosen illustration, colorfully written. By basing principles in specific experiences, we show how to minister effectively amid the complexity and ambiguity of real life.

Use short sentences whenever possible Variety of length, of course, contributes to good style, but writers err more often with too many long sentences than short ones.

Use long words only when necessary Some critics claim scholars and professionals purposely write to obfuscate meaning, to cover fuzzy thinking, or to sound intellectual. Of this Leadership writers will never be guilty!

Assume your reader bores easily Remember, if he flips the page from lack of interest, you've lost! Keep asking yourself, “What grabs my attention? An illustration? A fresh insight? A well-turned phrase?” Keep the reader with you by introducing a constant stream of interesting material.

After writing your manuscript, go through it and see how many action verbs you have. Mark each noun you can taste, hear, see, smell, or feel. You can see hubcaps, handkerchiefs, coffee mugs, and lightning bugs. Good writers fill their prose with objects you literally see in your mind's eye. Be as specific as possible. For instance, “Toyota” is better than “car” for conjuring up an image.

Here's a book they recommend.

“The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition” (William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, Roger Angell)