September 2, 2015

6 words about writing

Readers offer super-short tips

OVERCOME OVERLOAD Can you tell your story in exactly six words?

Last month, in honor of Students First’s six-word essay contest to best describe what it means to be a great teacher, we asked readers to send us their writing tips in six words.

Here are the best of the bunch.

“Dump. Cut. Cut. Cut. Cut. Enjoy.”
— Ned Mann, Media Relations professional
at Chubb Executive Risk Inc.

 

“Long, dangly sentences are usually DOA.”
— Anita Allen, Ascend contributor at Sabre
“DOA copy is Daunting, Overwritten, Agonizing.”
— Anita Allen
“Marshal muscular verbs. Launch soaring sentences.”
— Dana Van Allen, communications specialist at Siemens Milltronics
“Sometimes, grammar police: look away.”
— Alejandro (Alex) Morones, technical writer and editor
at the University of Texas at San Antonio
“To become a better writer, read.”
— Christel K. Hall, APR CBC,
principal at PRowrite Public Relations Services
“Writer’s block cured by writing anything.”
— Andy DiOrio, director of internal communications, AMC Theatres
“Just write; keep typing; edit later.”
— Laura Temple
“Edit. Edit again. Once more. Polished.”
— Jo Lynn Deal, business management consultant
“Tell a story, don’t report it.”
— Jef White, managing editor, National Business Media
“Mesmerize with moonlight thru looking glass.”
— Susan Parson, operations manager, Business Education Compact
One more tip …

One participant pandered to the judge. He knows the judge personally and correctly assumed that she’d appreciate the pandering:

“Favorite writing tip: Read Ann Wylie”
— Barry Schneider, product communications manager at Waddell & Reed

And the winner is …

My favorite tip, both for the topic (feature leads) and imagery, is:

“Make your lead really sing – loud.”
— Mary Lisa Russell, communication specialist
at Community Medical Centers

Mary, look for one of my favorite things from my new hometown — Portland, Ore. — in your mailbox soon. And thanks to everyone who played.

Be heard

My husband likes to quote “anonymous”:

“If a man speaks in the forest,
and no woman is there to hear him,
is he still wrong?”

For communicators, the question is a little different. David Murray, editor of ContentWise, says:

“If nobody hears your strategic messaging,
does it make a sound?”

The biggest risk in communications is not that we might offend someone or write something that’s eye-rollingly goofy. The biggest risk communicators face is that we never get heard at all.

  • Cut Through the Clutter

    Is your copy easy to read? According to communication experts, that’s one of the two key questions people ask to determine whether to read a piece — or toss it.

    Fortunately, academics have tested and quantified what makes copy easy to read. Unfortunately, that research virtually never makes it out of the ivory tower and into the hands of writers who could actually apply it.

    In Cut Through the Clutter — a two-day Master Class on May 11-12 in Chicago — you’ll learn “the numbers” you need to measurably improve your copy’s readability.

    Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

    • Think Like a Reader: Move people to act
    • Go Beyond the Inverted Pyramid: Master a structure that's been proven in the lab to reach more readers
    • Cut Through the Clutter: Make every piece you write measurably easier to read and understand
    • Lift Your Ideas Off the Page Or Screen: Reach flippers and skimmers, increase readership
    • Edit, write, repeat: Bring your laptop and a story to work on, write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for Writing Workshop in Chicago.


    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

    Would you like to hold an in-house Cut Through the Clutter workshop? Contact Ann directly.

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